Sunday, May 20, 2012

Biometrics and crime prevention – Security vs. Privacy

Everybody is familiar with these images…

Terrorism is a big threat for the Countries all around the world. Since 9/11 there have been continuous improvements in security systems to avoid terrorist attacks. In USA the focus has been shifted from international to domestic threats and from identifying culpable people to preventing them to commit crimes.

Here is where biometrics comes!

In the last years US Department of Homeland Security has been testing and implementing several techniques to detect ‘pre-crime’ indicators. For example the FAST (Future attribute screening technology) is a program able to spot people willing to commit a terrorist act. This system measures: hearth and respiration rates, changes in human voice, eyes movements, facial expressions and body movements.

Another example is the Terahertz Imaging Detection: a new technology to detect guns used by NYPD. It can measure the energy radiating from a body and detect objects (like guns) concealing it.

So… it seems that, thanks to these technologies, in the future we will be safer than ever: crimes will be stopped before damaging anyone and even fear of being pre-detected might block criminals from acting.

But, what about privacy? What about people nervous in the airport simply because they do not like flying? What about the right of walking down a street without being continuously “scanned”?

Does crime prevention have a limit? Are these technologies completely reliable? To combat crime and terrorism, shouldn’t we focus more on the educational side rather than on these methods based on fear and intrusiveness?

Discussion is open…

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