Real-Time Face Recognition Threatens to Turn Cops Body Cameras Into Surveillance Machines
Publisher: The Intercept
Date Written: 22/03/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20577
For years, the development of real-time face recognition has been hampered by poor video resolution, the angles of bodies in motion, and limited computing power. But as systems begin to transcend these technical barriers, they are also outpacing the development of policies to constrain them. Civil liberties advocates fear that the rise of real-time face recognition alongside the growing number of police body cameras creates the conditions for a perfect storm of mass surveillance.
At least five U.S. police departments, including those in Los Angeles and New York, have already purchased or looked into purchasing real-time face recognition for their CCTV cameras, according to a study of face recognition technology published by Bedoya and other researchers at Georgetown. Bedoya emphasized that it's only a matter of time until the nation's body-worn cameras will be hooked up to real-time systems. With 6,000 of the countrys 18,000 police agencies estimated to be using body cameras, the pairing would translate into hundreds of thousands of new, mobile surveillance cameras.
"For many of these systems, the inclusion of real-time face recognition is just a software update away," said Harlan Yu, co-author of a report on body camera policies for Upturn, a technology think tank.