A creepy footnote to the shooting in Maryland yesterday. Apparently, the identity of the shooter – who had no ID on him, refused to give his name and had “obscured” his fingerprints – was determined via the use of facial recognition software.
An NBC news story about the incident mentions this fairly casually and without comment:
“Senior law enforcement sources briefed on the investigation told NBC News that Ramos had been identified through the use of facial recognition software. The sources said earlier that he had somehow obscured his fingerprints, making identification difficult. (Anne Arundel County Deputy Police Chief Bill) Krampf would not confirm those details, and said Thursday evening that he had no knowledge of any facial recognition or anything about fingerprints.”
If, in fact, the shooter was identified via his “faceprint” – so to speak – it shows just how powerful this “tool” is.
It is also implies pretty strongly that our faceprints are also in the system and the implication of that is troubling. We are probably not only being watched but individually recorded – our comings and goings – whenever we’re out and about. The cameras which are ubiquitous in most areas probably work like those Automated License Plate Readers (ALPRs) which can scan and “process” the license plates of every vehicle that passes within range of the reader.
Some people may not object, of course. If you have nothing to hide . . . .
In which case, why object to random spot checks of our homes by government goons? If you’ve got nothing to hide . . . .
Is it exaggerating things to suggest that all of this keeping track of us is like being made to wear an ankle bracelet which we can’t see or feel but which serves the same purpose? And without the conviction?
You don’t have to wear an ankle bracelet unless you’ve been found guilty of some criminal act first. Then – as an alternative to being placed in a government cage, they let you go home and use your home as the cage, with some limited free roaming occasionally permitted.
But the point is, they know where you are.
Faceprints take it a step farther. They know who you are as well as where you are (and where you have been). With the terabytes of storage capacity known to exist, it is possible – probable – they have the technological means to record and store the daily routines of 300-plus million people, or at least whatever percentage of the population has been faceprinted and lives in or travels through a camera-rich environment.
Not that anyone cares about such things anymore, but the civil liberties issues raised by all of this are important. Where and when did the government acquire the legal authority to monitor and record us without warrant and in the absence of any probable cause a crime has been committed? Does not faceprinting render moot the laws still on the books limiting when armed government workers (i.e., law enforcement) may lawfully demand that a person identify themselves?
In general, the law is that the armed government worker has to be able to articulate reasonable suspicion that a crime either has been committed (and by the specific individual he is seeking to ID) or is about to be committed. Most states also require that anyone operating a motor vehicle produce ID in the event of a traffic stop. But armed government workers cannot simply demand ID at random from pedestrians – nor stop motorists at random (with the exception of “safety” and DUI checkpoints) and demand the driver present ID.
With faceprinting, those protections become irrelevances – in principle at least and probably also in practice.
If the cameras are acute enough – and they probably are – then your face is being pictured every time you are within range of a camera and being compared with the faceprint that is on file in the government database – that picture probably having been taken when you got your driver’s license.
Which is in fact a REAL ID.
The REAL ID law was passed back in 2005, during the reign of the Great Decider – who also gave us the Heimatsicherheitsdienst, or Homeland Security Department. It sounds better, so much more right, in the original German. (And given the history of the Bush family in this respect, their liking for such peculiarly German things is not coincidental.)
The REAL ID is a biometric ID imposed on us by the necessity of having to get a government permission slip not just to drive but to live – unless you’re living in a tent under an old bridge somewhere. You cannot obtain legal employment or open a bank account or buy anything substantial without “proper ID.” So while you’re not technically forced by law to submit to being faceprinted and having other biometric “tags” taken (given is more accurate – as in the sense of cattle tags) you effectively have no choice.
They will take your faceprint and it will be used against you and will be used before you’ve actually done anything to justify it being used against you.
Well, justified in the antiquarian sense of your having had to have done something or other to at least arouse suspicion first. We’re all presumptively “persons of interest” now.
And now you know it.
. . .
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