Facial recognition systems – The electronic police line-up
When tens of thousands of football fans packed into a Florida stadium for Super Bowl XXXV, they weren't merely watching the game: They were also being watched. Face-recognition software surreptitiously scanned everyone passing through turnstiles and flashed probable matches with the mugs of known criminals on the screens of a police control room.
As cameras become ubiquitous, as face-recognition technology becomes more accurate, and as databases of known faces grow, privacy advocates fret that everyone from direct marketers to the FBI will be able to track your movements and compile detailed dossiers on your life. "We do not believe that the public understands or accepts that they will be subjected to a computerized police lineup as a condition of admission.” Source
This happened in Tampa Florida January 2001, many months before the September 11 attacks. Twelve years later facial recognition systems have become much more sophisticated and their use widespread. The neighboring Pinellas County Sheriff applies it in the courthouse, the jail, and with 170 patrol deputies. Funding started with a $3.5 million dollar federal grant.
For the past three years the state of New York has compared everyone’s driver’s license photo to a database of 20 million images looking for a match with a terrorist or criminal. Facebook recently re-enabled its facial recognition feature, with no changes, after the previous backlash quieted down.
Facial recognition is a slick tool for catching criminals, but the potential for abuse is huge. A photo of you walking down the street can be matched with other images of you in a database that contains all kinds of private information. Matching photos can also link multiple databases to build a complete and detailed record. Technology has far outrun laws against “unreasonable search”.
Here are excerpts from an excellent article I urge you to read.
* the technology could be used by authorities to identify peaceful protesters at rallies and target them for selective jailing and prosecution.
* researchers at Carnegie Mellon used facial recognition technology and social media profiles to identify strangers and gain their personal information — including their Social Security numbers.
It appears the Seamless Surveillance State is fast becoming a reality, with encouragement and funding from Uncle Snoop. What do you think about this? What do you think the future will bring?
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