Re: [AP] Automated video-scanning for criminal mugshots

From: Strata Rose Chalup (
Date: Fri Feb 02 2001 - 12:21:07 PST

Matt, I agree with most of your points, but one stands out for

Matt Jensen wrote:

> (As in this Super Bowl case. If there's a 1 in 1,000 chance that a
> terrorist might try an attack, and they might kill 50,000 people if
> successful, that's a non-trivial risk. Isn't your discomfort at being
> unobtrusively checked with the video mug shot checker a trivial complaint
> in comparison?)

This kind of thing sounds reasonable, but I seriously doubt that the
mug shot checker runs in realtime. It is extraordinarily unlikely
that the mug shot checker can in any substantial way reduce the
risk of 50K people being killed at a Super Bowl. In fact, it is
more likely to increase the risk, since someone might take it
as a challenge. In any case, now that it is known that these
things are being employed at similar events, if there were something
planned, the planners would merely be more careful to use someone
whose face wasn't known yet.

Most likely, the mug shot checker is being used in the hopes of
apprehending folks whose whereabouts are not known, in specific or
in general. By getting at least one valid data tuple (so-and-so,
was here, at this date), law enforcement has a starting point
from which to track them down. If they get a match, they can then
go and requisition camera feeds from surveillance cams in the parking
garages nearby, the 7-11s, etc, in the hopes of tying the person to
a particular vehicle, etc. They can check things they wouldn't have
checked before.

So if someone challenges you saying, "Isn't the safety of FIFTY
THOUSAND people worth a little privacy discomfort?", you might want
to explain this line of reasoning to them. I'm not saying that
the real results are or aren't worth it. I *am* saying that it's
not at all a cut and dried case of "my privacy vs. 50K lives".
If someone tries to put it that way, set phasers on "extreme
rebuttal" and drain your powerpack at them.



Strata Rose Chalup [KF6NBZ]                      strata "@"
VirtualNet Consulting                  
 ** Project Management & Architecture for ISP/ASP Systems Integration **

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