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Stunning: Taser wants to turn the public and their smartphones into its big data posse of police informants

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Last month we wrote about the increasing application of big data analysis by police forces, often using software from the shadowy outfit Palantir. But it’s by no means the only company that sees this as a huge growth market: another is Axon. If that name is unfamiliar, that’s because it’s the new, rather anonymous branding for the very well-known Taser:

“We are Axon, a team committed to pushing the boundaries of technology to help you feel more confident in the field, at the station, and in court. From Smart Weapons, like our TASER devices, to police body cameras and digital evidence management systems, every product works together as a single network. Seamlessly integrated. Completely connected. And designed to help police, sheriffs, and law enforcement agencies everywhere make the world a safer place.”

Taser is just one division of Axon, and arguably not the most important one. That honor probably belongs to its body-worn camera products. Even there, it’s not the camera itself that matters. As Axon announces on its home page, it is offering a free one-year trial of its cameras, software and training to every police officer in the US. It’s a classic razor-blade model: give away the razor itself, make money from the supplies – in this case, a subscription to Axon’s core product, the site Evidence.com. Axon’s aim is to provide law enforcement with a one-stop cloud-based system for storing and managing all kinds of police data – body-worn video, in-car video, interview room video, CCTV, photographs, audio, and documents – along with features such workflow and audit trails.

Those are all fairly conventional offerings. But an article in The Intercept earlier this year revealed

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