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FC: NYT, LATimes editorials slam Super Bowl face-scan technology
From: Declan McCullagh <declan () well com>
Date: Sun, 04 Feb 2001 20:42:29 -0500

My article on the constitutional issues:
LA Times on the technology:



Super Day for Big Brother

The creeping assault against privacy turned just plain creepy this week with the disclosure that close-up digital surveillance cameras scanned the faces of all who passed through the turnstiles at the Super Bowl. The strong reaction to this news stems from the omniscience of sci-fi technology, from worries about who knows what about us and from wondering where it will end.



February 4, 2001
Super Bowl Snooping

Although few spectators at last Sunday's Super Bowl were aware of it, surveillance cameras photographed their faces as they filed into Raymond James Stadium. Those images were then relayed instantly by cable to computers that scanned and compared them with images in a police database of criminals and criminal suspects. A Tampa Bay police spokesman described the system as a potentially "priceless" tool for detecting dangerous individuals and preventing terrorist acts. The American Civil Liberties Union has criticized the system as an invasion of privacy that could have serious consequences for a free society.

We share those concerns. Three years ago this week, the New York City Police Department installed surveillance cameras in Washington Square Park, ostensibly to deter drug dealers. We argued editorially at the time that even though there was generally no expectation of privacy in public spaces, Americans did not expect to be monitored by government agencies when they ate lunch on a park bench or strolled down a street.



And Now, the Good Side Of Facial Profiling
By John D. Woodward Jr.
Sunday, February 4, 2001; Page B04

It seemed like an Orwellian revelation: Last week, law enforcement
officials at Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa secretly scanned spectators'
faces with surveillance cameras and instantly compared their
"faceprints" against those of suspected terrorists and known
criminals in a computerized database. Alarmed civil libertarians
quickly raised the specter of a Big Brother government spying on its

But is the growing use of this technology cause for alarm? Is it an
undesirable invasion of individual privacy, or does it represent a
positive advance in security measures that generates benefits for
society? As someone who closely follows law and policy issues
related to biometrics -- technologies that use a person's physical
characteristics or personal traits for recognition -- I believe we
must not move precipitously to condemn a technology that can serve
as a useful tool in the fight against crime and terrorism.


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