Biometrics is unleashing the next wave of a technological revolution where facial recognition technology is a chosen biometrical facet to explore consumer data, to offer selective products and services. The German authorities are initiating a pilot project at the Berlin railway station that will use facial recognition technology to increase citizen security.
Tension erupted at the Berlin’s Südkreuz station as the German Interior Ministry began the trialing of the facial recognition software, causing much discomfort to the data protection agencies and local privacy laws.
The German authorities believe the modern technology will increase citizen security and help authorities to locate criminal activities in public transport and fight terrorism. The police are hoping that the technology will help them to fight crimes before they happen.
Recognizing the rail passengers through the facial recognition software could be a violation of citizen privacy and lead to accuracy problems. It remains to be seen how the technology will help to identify the people accurate in a crowded area. Such trials aren’t new as in 2006, a similar trial was done at Mainz, and the technology was found to be insufficient as it was capable of recognizing passengers only from the front. The photos could have been manipulated using cleverly designed facial masks.
A report by Deutsche Welle suggests that according to various security experts, there is a one in a million chance of the technology failing. The Südkreuz station sees a footfall of around three million passengers a day, and any error in facial recognition could lead to massive pitfalls. German law organizations and privacy advocates suggest that monitoring technologies haven’t been successful to stop criminals before. The UK, being the highly monitored European nation, didn’t experience much success with their video surveillance technology as assaults continued to happen from perpetrators who were known to the police, says the Chairwoman of Digital Courage, Rena Tangens.
Irrespective of whether the Südkreuz station trials are successful or not, the issue of citizen privacy remains. It restricts the freedom of movement of unsuspecting citizens, giving the German government a real-time data of what its citizens are doing. The President of the German Bar Association, Ulrich Schellenberg, objected to the trials for the same reason.