Biometric Security Poses Huge Privacy Risks
Biometrics could turn existing surveillance systems into something categorically new—something more powerful and much more invasive. Consider the so-called Domain Awareness System, a network of 3,000 surveillance cameras in New York City. Currently if someone commits a crime, cops can go back and review sections of video. Equip the system with facial-recognition technology, however, and the people behind the controls can actively track you throughout your daily life. “A person who lives and works in lower Manhattan would be under constant surveillance,” says Jennifer Lynch, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group. Face-in-a-crowd detection is a formidable technical problem, but researchers working on projects such as the Department of Homeland Security's Biometric Optical Surveillance System (BOSS) are making rapid progress.