Government Perfects Crowd-Scanning Facial Recognition Tech for Use by Your Local Cops

(Photo: Getty)Beta Beat – by Molly Mulshine

The federal government is perfecting software that will be able to pick suspects out of a crowd through facial recognition, and while we’re sure it’ll prove itself very useful for finding terrorists, it’s kind of horrifying all the same–especially since they might make it available for use by your neighborhood police.

The crowd-scanning project is called the Biometric Optical Surveillance System, the New York Times reports, and will be known as BOSS, because if there’s one thing our government loves more than chipping away at our privacy, it’s hyper-masculine acronyms.  

The tech could be used to “help match faces in a crowd with names on a watch list — whether in searching for terrorism suspects at high-profile events like a presidential inaugural parade, looking for criminal fugitives in places like Times Square or identifying card cheats in crowded casinos,” the Times reports.

The documents show that the tech was originally developed for use in Afghanistan and Iraq, but eventually oozed over to the Department of Homeland Security to be used by police stateside.

One specialist says the technology could be accessible in “at least five years,” the Times reports, but is still not reliable enough. We’re guessing that means it could result in suspects being misidentified, which would clearly open up quite the can of worms for anybody who resembles someone on a terrorist watch list.

“Although the system is not ready for use, researchers say they are making significant advances,” the Times reports. “That alarms privacy advocates, who say that now is the time for the government to establish oversight rules and limits on how it will someday be used.”

Okay, we’re waiting.

Follow Molly Mulshine on Twitter or via

Sent to us by a reader.

3 thoughts on “Government Perfects Crowd-Scanning Facial Recognition Tech for Use by Your Local Cops

  1. I think this is more high-tech fear mongering. They’ve been trying to scare us with facial recognition technology for a decade now, and if today’s cameras and computers can’t do it, it can’t be done.

    All I have to do is shave off a long winter’s beard and people who’ve known me for years don’t recognize me. You can twist your own face into so many different positions that a computer program would have to assess millions of possibilities before making a match.

    They’re putting this in the news (and have been for years) to keep people from attending demonstrations. It’s BS.

    1. And as long as the author thinks “it’ll prove itself very useful for finding terrorists”, she’s the perfect candidate to deliver the BS.

      Where are the terrorists? Show me one goddamn terrorist, please. We have two thousand wet-backs swarming over the border everyday, and there hasn’t been so much as a pipe-bomb blown up in this country since Michelle Obama and her Weathermen were blowing up Federal buildings in the 1960’s.

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published.