With improvements in technology today we are faced with some serious concern about what governments should and should not be allowed to do. Especially when it comes to things like protecting civil liberties we need to be careful in the way things like facial recognition software is applied.
People should have a right to a certain degree on anonymity in a crowd, and the government shouldn’t be in the business of logging every action a given individual takes, that said, we should be smart about how we track down known criminals and ensure we are keeping the public safe. This balance can be made as long as we put in place some general rules about how this technology is applied.
There are two ways a facial recognition software can work. They can scan faces and then identify each one of them individually, creating a list of all the people in a given area, or they can store a list of known faces and scan a crowd for any matches. The latter is clearly the better option when it comes to protecting privacy. The U.S. government does not need a list of every single person who participates in a protest or goes to a concert, but they do need to be able to find known criminals.
It is time that we put into law a general rule that requires law enforcement agencies to only use facial recognition systems that identify people on lists of people who have active warrants. Anything else would be unreasonable and would allow for an unprecedented level of invasion of personal privacy, rivaled only by the unconstitutional phone surveillance program revealed a few years ago.