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

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From: Damien Morton (
Date: Mon Feb 05 2001 - 07:47:02 PST

I believe they run one of these kinds of system in central London, in the

The thing is - these systems can only get better than they are.

Imagine having one of these monitoring every entry point to Manhattan, say.
You get to your tollbooth and theres a camera there observing you and
feeding snapshots back to the central database for verification. You dont
get a green light and the barrier doesnt go up unless you are considered

Now if someone came up with a software phrenologist...

> From: Matt Jensen []
> On Fri, 2 Feb 2001, Strata Rose Chalup wrote:
> > 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.
> The mug shot checker *does* run in realtime, and classifies a
> face within
> milliseconds. However, it apparently has terrible accuracy...
> " "The laboratory results suggest that this type of system has no
> chance in hell of working" for more than a rough filtering of
> suspects,
> said Jim Wayman, director of San Jose State University's
> Biometric Test
> Center, a federally funded testing lab.
> Indeed, a recent study found that digital comparisons of
> posed photos of
> the same person taken 18 months apart triggered false rejection by
> computers 43% of the time, according to the National Institute of
> Standards and Technology. A forthcoming Defense Department study
> substantially validates that finding, Wayman said.
> "To these systems . . . one out of every 50 people looks like
> Carlos the
> Jackal," an infamous terrorist, he said. "And the real Carlos
> has only a
> 50% chance of looking like himself.""
> So, that's a good, practical reason not to deploy such a system.
> Although there might be a deterrent effect, where criminals stay away
> because they think you've got a great system, assuming the above story
> doesn't get as much press as the original stories. But again, we're
> getting sucked into cost/benefit analysis, when there is no
> way to assess
> the cost to our privacy.
> > I *am* saying that it's
> > not at all a cut and dried case of "my privacy vs. 50K lives".
> I don't buy it either, which was my main point, but perhaps instead of
> parenthesis I should have put that position in quotation marks.
> -Matt Jensen
> Seattle

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