A camera, one of thousands, scans the street, instantly analyzing the faces of everyone it sees. Then, an alert: The algorithms found a match with someone in the crowd. Officers rush to the scene and take him into custody.
This is what some makers of this technology fear might happen if police adopt advanced forms of facial recognition that make it easier to track wanted criminals, missing people and suspected terrorists ─ while expanding the government’s ability to secretly monitor the public.
Despite “real-time” facial recognition’s dazzling potential for crime-prevention, it is also raising alarms of the risks of mistakes and abuse. Those concerns are not only coming from privacy and civil rights advocates, but increasingly from tech firms themselves.
In recent months, one tech executive has vowed never to sell his facial recognition products to police departments, and another has called on Congress to intervene. One company has formed an ethics board for guidance, and another says it might do the same. Employees and shareholders from some of the world’s biggest tech firms have pressed their leaders to get out of business with law enforcement.