- Augmenting body cameras with facial recognition is not a hypothetical or a research and development target–it is already available in several body camera products.
- Biometric data is weakly regulated in US police forces, meaning there might be nothing standing in the way of law enforcement integrating it into existing body cameras.
- Current facial recognition technologies are just accurate enough to pick out faces from low-resolution images, but not accurate enough to ensure proper identification.
A new report by the Intercept warns that the unsettlingly realistic prospect of facial recognition programs being deployed as an augmentation to police body cameras could have grave repercussions on the privacy of citizens. What makes the intrusiveness of this potential policing technology particularly serious is the combination of lax existing biometric data policies in police forces and nascent, error-prone facial identification software.
To begin with, the piece reveals that the technical capacity for integrating facial recognition programs into body cameras already exists. Almost a quarter of body camera manufacturers offer facial detection and identification capabilities with their products, according to a joint study by the Department of Justice and Johns Hopkins University. Correspondingly, new facial recognition algorithms, such as that of the startup compnay NTechLab, are able to be installed to body cameras. Even more concerning, this new generation of facial recognition products offers a quantum leap in capabilities, such as, in addition to real-time processing, the ability fetch location history, criminal history, and immigration status.