Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Battle of Vancouver

It’s the one week anniversary of the “Battle of Vancouver” on Wednesday, and police in that city are getting high-tech in their attempts to track down and charge as many of the culprits as they can.

The fallout from the Canucks riots has been interesting, from the public shaming websites started up by Vancouver citizens, to the Facebook/Twitter witch-hunts that outed people who thought they had gotten away with the damage they caused. Personally, I thought the social media side of things would be the most intriguing part of the aftermath of the chaos – I couldn’t wait to see what happens when thousands of people take pictures of thousands of people breaking stuff and setting things on fire.

It looks like I underestimated how far that storyline would go though. If there are pictures floating around the internet of you doing something stupid and you have a driver’s license, you might be hearing from the Vancouver Police Department very soon!

The VPD says it’ll be running pictures from the mayhem through some facial recognition software.

That’s right – the Insurance Corporation of BC is getting involved and lending a hand. How good is this software, you ask? According to the CBC, it analyzes the specific facial characteristics of anyone with a license or ID card issued by the province, and it’s “extremely rare” for two people’s measurements to match up.

Are you scared yet?

Officers will still need a court order if they want to use the technology, but there are enough pictures of people doing incredibly illegal stuff out on the internet to keep officers busy!

The BC Civil Liberties Association says it’s concerned about the use of the ICBC software, but here’s what they have to remember: a picture of a person standing next to a burning cop car isn’t enough to warrant charges. A picture or video of a person smashing the front window of a store and grabbing some merchandise is probably more along the lines of what they are looking for here.

Speaking of the large amounts of looting that took place during the riots, if you were involved in that, you should be worried. The Vancouver Province reports that some of the businesses that were ransacked plan to go hard after looters in court!

What do you think: Is it wrong for police to use this “facial recognition” stuff for this purpose, or does anyone who gets caught have it coming?

No comments: