Monday Poll – Facial Recognition Technology Versus Individual Privacy

Posted: April 22, 2013 in Policing, Technology & Crime
Tags: , , , ,

The Boston bombing isn’t the first case in which video footage helped solve a crime, of course, but the scale of IT consumerization and the wide availability of commercial grade CCTV in this instance was unprecedented. The presence of so much raw footage made video forensics and subsequent release of relevant footage to the public two of the key investigative steps that cracked the case.

The  availability of volumes of personal video and commercial CCTV also presented a test case for application of facial recognition systems. Unfortunately, such technology is still somewhat limited in its practical usage and, as a result, it played no role in the Boston case at all.  Companies like 3VR, discussed in the video above, are working to overcome that, however. There’s every indication that, at some point, facial recognition software will be able to quickly and easily identify individuals, even if they attempt to disguise their appearance.

Despite the current limitations, though, the general role of video footage in solving the Boston case argues for expanded use of CCTV systems in cities around the U.S. and, along with that, the potential for increased use of facial recognition technologies as well, once they mature.

All of this has generated considerable debate that highlights the tension between maintenance of public safety on the one hand and the privacy rights of law abiding citizens on the other. Should the government use what some would term “invasive” technology, such as CCTV and facial recognition software, that potentially allows the government to intrude on the privacy of its citizens? Are such intrusions warranted if they help solve serious crimes like the Boston bombing? If so, how should the technology be regulated, if at all?

What do you believe is most important in this debate, safety or privacy? Vote in our first Monday poll and see the results!

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