posted Sep 07, 2001

Your Face Is Not a Bar Code
Human Justice

'Face recognition systems in public places, however, are a matter for serious concern. The issue recently came to broad public attention when it emerged that fans attending the Super Bowl had unknowingly been matched against a database of alleged criminals, and when the city of Tampa deployed a face-recognition system in the nightlife district of Ybor City. But current and proposed uses of face recognition are much more widespread, as the resources at the end of this article demonstrate in detail. The time to consider the acceptability of face recognition in public places is now, before the practice becomes entrenched and people start getting hurt.'

Excellent article, full of resources and links on this topic, including some well-thought-out arguments. One pet peeve of mine is well addressed in the "responses to arguments" section:

'"What do you have to hide?"'

'This line is used against nearly every attempt to protect personal privacy, and the response in each case is the same. People have lots of valid reasons, personal safety for example, to prevent particular others from knowing particular information about them. Democracy only works if groups can organize and develop their political strategies in seclusion from the government, and from any established interests they might be opposing. This includes, for example, the identities of people who might travel through public places to gather for a private political meeting. In its normal use, the question "What do you have to hide?" stigmatizes all personal autonomy as anti-social. As such it is an authoritarian demand, and has no place in a free society.'

Emphasis mine.



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