Cops to Get Facial Recognition Devices; Will They Need Warrants to Use Them?
Posted Jul 13, 2011 6:38 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Police departments in several states are getting new high-tech devices that can scan irises, recognize faces and collect fingerprints.
The devices, made by BI2 Technologies, are attached to an iPhone for immediate searches of criminal databases, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports. The development is “raising significant questions about privacy and civil liberties,” the story says.
Currently the technology, called “Moris” for Mobile Offender Recognition and Information System, is used by the military to identify insurgents. But B12 has contracts to sell about 1,000 of the Moris devices to 40 police agencies, the story says.
The Wall Street Journal interviewed George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr about the legal implications. Generally, police can take pictures of anyone in a public space. But after an officer stops or detains someone, police need “reasonable suspicion” to take fingerprints.
Whether a warrant will be needed to use facial recognition or an iris scan is “a gray area of the law,” Kerr said. "A warrant might be required to force someone to open their eyes."