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State AG paid data viz company $30K this month

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State AG paid data viz company $30K this month

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office paid a social network analysis company $30,000 this month, the state comptroller’s payment database shows. The purchase suggests the state’s top prosecutor is using software to map datasets for investigations, a common practice in both law enforcement and the private sector, though the Oct. 2 payment marks the first appearance of the French company, Linkurious, on the Open Book New York website.

Linkurious describes itself as a “graph visualization and analysis software that helps uncover hidden threats and opportunities from anti-money laundering to cyber-security.”

“Data analysis is a vital part of nearly all of our investigative work,” AG press secretary Amy Spitalnick told The Alt in an email. “Given that it relates to investigations we can’t share details, but the tool is used by our office to conduct detailed analyses of large amounts of data.”

Linkurious did not respond to a request for comment.

“Data visualization, data analysis, and data mining software are commonly used in investigations of all sorts,” Brian Nussbaum, an assistant professor at the University at Albany and former intelligence analyst, told The Alt. “Law enforcement, fraud investigators, insurance companies, and others rely on these tools to make sense of large bodies of structured and unstructured data.”  

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a network of nearly 200 reporters from dozens of countries, used Linkurious during its Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting project on the Panama Papers, which exposed offshore tax havens using 11.5 million leaked documents from law firm Mossack Fonseca.  

“We…needed an easy-to-use and intuitive solution that did not require the intervention of any data scientist or developers, so journalists around the globe could work with the data, regardless of their technical abilities,” ICIJ data editor Mar Cabra told Computer Weekly last year. Pairing Linkurious with Neo4j, a graph database service, constituted “a revolutionary discovery tool because relationships are all-important in telling you where the criminality lies, who works with whom, and so on,” she said.

Politico reported in late August that Schneiderman’s office is working with federal special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating alleged collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, on a probe into former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s financial dealings.

“The two teams have shared evidence and talked frequently in recent weeks about a potential case,” the outlet reported. “One of the people familiar with progress on the case said both Mueller’s and Schneiderman’s teams have collected evidence on financial crimes, including potential money laundering.”

Photo courtesy of Linkurious press kit.

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