Video Surveillance, Facial Recognition Technology and the Law

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Omnipresent video surveillance and facial recognition technology have staked a new frontier in the American legal system, as local communities, state officials and even the Supreme Court consider questions about surveillance, technology and privacy.

This week, The Cincinnati Enquirer revealed that Ohio law enforcement has been using facial recognition technology to match driver’s license photos and surveillance footage for months, without telling the public.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine spoke with The Takeaway and dismissed his critics, stating, "As your listeners across the country listen to this, the odds are that their state does exactly—exactly—what we’re doing." While DeWine is right—26 other states use facial recognition technology in law enforcement—questions regarding Americans' right to anonymity in public places remain. 

Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center and professor at George Washington University Law School, describes the current law on surveillance and facial recognition technology, and discusses how the law may change in the years to come.


Jeffrey Rosen

Produced by:

Jillian Weinberger


T.J. Raphael

Comments [1]

While it has come along way over the last few years, facial recognition will remain an imperfect approach to identification. There will always be a trade off between high sensitivity and a high rate mistaken identification and lower sensitivity and a high rate of non-identification.

We should all do our best to confound these efforts. Grow a beard before going to the DMV or passport office. Squint and smile ridiculously or frown. Style your hair to conceal your face.

Aug. 29 2013 02:39 PM

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