The next time you are walking through a railway station or an airport in Germany, chances are that your picture is captured by security to face match with the records of various suspects in their database. Yes, it is true. Sources have indicated that tests have started in Berlin Station, where facial recognition technology is undergoing development. Sources have indicated that this facial recognition technology will empower the security forces to track down terrorists and capture them through the face detection mechanism.
Under this technology platform a high-performance CCTV camera with specific software will be used to capture pictures. These pictures will be then matched with the faces of known suspects in the database of security personnel. The technology will alert police when they recognize a known suspect who has a perfect face match with their records.
The project has received lot of flak from lawyers and some groups who feel that this so-called innovative technology for securities will compromise the privacy of individuals. However, Interior Minister of Germany Thomas de Maiziere has strongly defended this innovation and stated that security of public places can’t be compromised under any circumstance.
The testing of this technology commenced at Berlin’s Südkreuz station, and the project will continue for six months to test the technology in various scenarios. A team of 250 volunteers has been set up who have agreed to be scanned and tracked during the pilot phase. According to authorities, it is important for them to detect faces when people are entering and leaving the place. Hence, it is even more critical for this biometric face recognition technology to function reliably and with some level of accuracy.
Sources have indicated that the volunteers are carrying radio transmitters, through which their movements are tracked.
The reason de Maiziere has initiated this project is to strengthen the security in Germany after the country has undergone a series of terror incidents, including the lorry attack on a Christmas market in Berlin.
Though privacy activists have not shown any resistance in this, lawyers have showed their concern, stating that this indicates that the country is moving to a true surveillance-based place.
However, even with these reservations, the German government has approved the project, with the data protection commissioner sanctioning the project. Only time will tell the success of this project and how citizens of the country will accept this innovation.