Are U.S. Cops Preparing Widespread Use of Facial Recognition iPhone?

Buck Sexton|The Blaze

Starting as early as September, cops across the country  may be using a new iphone-based device to identify people based on a picture of their face,  iris scan, or a fingerprint reader, raising concerns about how the data will be gathered, stored, and used.

The device in question is called the MORIS,  which stands for Mobile Offender Recognition and Information System. Made by BI2 Technologies of Plymouth, Mass, it runs on the iphone platform. The company states that it has contracts with 40 government agencies to deliver 1,000 devices this fall.

Unlike other currently used biometric technologies, the MORIS does not require a separate digital camera or upload time, and automatically scans known databases for criminal warrants and other relevant history. The Wall Street Journal gives specifics on how this new device works:

“To scan a person’s iris, police officers can hold the special iris-scanning camera on device, called MORIS, about 5 to 6 inches away from an individual’s irises. After snapping a high resolution photo, the MORIS system analyzes 235 unique features in each iris and uses an algorithm to match that person with their identity if they are in the database.”

“For the facial recognition, an officer takes a photo of a person at a distance of about 2 feet to 5 feet. Based on technologies from Animetrics Inc., the system analyzes about 130 distinguishing points on the face, such as the distance between a person’s eye and nose. It then scans the database for likely matches.”

As for the usage of the devices, the law does not appear settled on whether police need consent to take a person’s photo.

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