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Police To Begin iPhone Iris Scans 197

cultiv8 writes "Dozens of police departments nationwide are gearing up to use a tech company's already controversial iris- and facial-scanning device that slides over an iPhone and helps identify a person or track criminal suspects. The smartphone-based scanner, named Mobile Offender Recognition and Information System, or MORIS, is made by BI2 Technologies in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and can be deployed by officers out on the beat or back at the station. An iris scan, which detects unique patterns in a person's eyes, can reduce to seconds the time it takes to identify a suspect in custody. This technique also is significantly more accurate than results from other fingerprinting technology long in use by police, BI2 says. When attached to an iPhone, MORIS can photograph a person's face and run the image through software that hunts for a match in a BI2-managed database of U.S. criminal records. Each unit costs about $3,000."
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Police To Begin iPhone Iris Scans

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  • by Coolhand2120 ( 1001761 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @08:21PM (#36830292)
    That's great, except for when it's not:
    From gizmodo []:

    Technology may be a pivot for many of our lives, but it's not exactly infallible. A Massachusetts man learnt that the hard way, after his driver's license was flagged as a fake on the police system, due to a facial-recognition error.

    It seems John H. Gass looks rather similar to another Massachusetts driver, causing the system to revoke his license after figuring his must be the fake. Rather than head down to the DVLA to sort out the problem, he was instead banned from driving for two weeks, and only won it back after he managed to prove he was who he said he was. Worse yet, it's estimated another 1,000 drivers faced a similar problem last year.

    The facial recognition software that the state of Massachusetts uses is identical to the one 34 other states use, paving the way for many more opportunities of mistaken identity for the future.

  • by KahabutDieDrake ( 1515139 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @09:45PM (#36830890)
    Not it will not. Portable DNA matching? You have been watching a little too much CSI my friend. It still takes a lab full of equipment, consumables and trained professionals to create a DNA profile and compare it to a sample or database. Even then, it's not nearly as accurate as you've been lied to believe. See, they don't actually sequence your DNA that would take too long, so they only do a profile. Which, while it might match a sample from the crime scene, it does not positively identify any one person. Only a class of people.

    For instance, if the sample from the crime scene came from a white male of non-jewish decent, then that sample profile will match something like 15% of all white males of non-jewish decent. Even more, it will match all the males in a particular blood line. (depending on sample).
  • by slashqwerty ( 1099091 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @10:32PM (#36831110)

    That didn't stop the US Supreme Court from ruling that police helicopters operating infared cameras scanning houses from above were not a "search."

    I think you are referring to Kyllo v United States [] which ruled exactly the opposite of what you have stated. The court concluded that using infrared cameras to scan homes for leaking heat is a search and thus requires a warrant under the fourth amendment. The basis for the court's opinion was very similar to the grandparent post.

    Of course, that ruling also involved Clarence "just bribe my wife" Thomas. So, maybe it'll one day be reversed by a saner court.

    The ruling did indeed involve Thomas who joined the majority opinion in a 5-4 decision. Quite frankly I would consider any court that reverses the ruling to be less sane.

  • by pipedwho ( 1174327 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @10:38PM (#36831140)

    Mod parent up.

    DNA testing is far more useful to prove exclusion with great confidence, because the 'match' size is only one to one. But - that does NOT mean we can extend this methodology to prove a positive match against a database with thousands of random entries. If a sample does not match the suspect, then it can generally be shown that the sample did NOT originate from the suspect - the inverse however, is not necessarily true.

    When samples do match to some degree, it can only be shown that there is some likelihood that a sample came from the suspect - a likelihood that is completely dependent on the search criteria and database size when matching the sample to a list of 'suspects'. The bigger the database, the less reliable the result.

    For example, if a there are three unrelated people in a room, and I take a sample from each one of them, then a lab could determine with extreme confidence which sample goes with which person. If I do the same with 10000 random people in the room, the probability of correctly identifying a given sample falls dramatically - in fact, it is likely that the sample will 'match' hundreds of people.

    As can be seen from the above examples, Gataca / [insert favourite TV crime show] style DNA matching is still far from realistic with current technology.

  • by protektor ( 63514 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @02:02AM (#36831958)

    You might want to think again and look up all the lawsuits that celebrities have filed against paparazzi for using giant telephoto lens to take pictures through their house windows and all of that. The photographers are on public property but that still doesn't get them out of trouble most of the time. There is also the issue of you are not free to photograph just anyone for any reason you want. There are court rulings, thus laws against that as well. There is also the issue of recording people, and their expectation of privacy. There are loads of legal precedence to cover privacy. It isn't in the Constitution per-say but many will and have argued that "the pursuit of happiness" and right against "unreasonable search and seizure" are the foundations for expected privacy. Many people have argued quite successfully that those are directly things that show people have a right to be left alone, thus privacy. There is a lot of case law that backs up this idea as well. So while you think you may be right that there is no Constitutional right to privacy, I would bet that in fact most lawyers would say that is not the case and you are not looking at the intent of the founding fathers and what they wrote about before and while crafting the Constitution. Remember many of the states forced compromises on the federal government to sign the Constitution because they wanted the federal government to stay the hell out of the states business and let them run things rather than the federal government always telling them what they can and can't do. They also wanted the governments in general to stay the hell out of people's lives other than the absolute bare minimum that was required. Somehow this country has gotten so very far away from that idea. So clearly what you are saying is not correct in reality. You do have a legal expectation of privacy in the US.

  • by Jaysyn ( 203771 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @07:49AM (#36833184) Homepage Journal

    The constitution limits what the government can do, not what you can't do. However, the US Supreme Court has declared that the "Right to Privacy" is inherent from the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 9th & 14th Amendments. [] []

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