the Department of Homeland Security is making considerable progress on a computerized tool called the Biometric Optical Surveillance System. The system, if completed, will use video cameras to scan people in public (or will be fed images of people from other sources) and then identify individuals by their faces, presumably by cross-referencing databases of driver’s license photos, mug shots or other facial images cataloged by name . . .
At the moment, there is little to no regulation or legal oversight of technologies like the Biometric Optical Surveillance System. We need to implement safeguards to protect our civil liberties — in particular, our expectation of some degree of anonymity in public.
The Department of Homeland Security is not the only agency developing facial-surveillance capacities. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has spent more than $1 billion on its Next Generation Identification program, which includes facial-recognition technology. This technology is expected to be deployed as early as next year and to contain at least 12 million searchable photos.