German Minister Favors Facial Recognition in Public Places

Privacy is a topic that seems to be less valuable to governments every single day. German Minister Thomas de Maiziere has stated he wants facial recognition enabled in all German stations moving forward. This level of mass surveillance is not something anyone should be looking forward to. At the same time, this measure is not entirely unexpected.

More Mass Surveillance In Germany?

It is certainly true law enforcement agencies need an improved technological system to conduct their operations. At the same time, this does not warrant invalid user privacy on a large scale. Then again, train stations and public airports are public places which could use more surveillance in general.

That being said, there is a big difference between using cameras in general, and linking them with facial recognition software. If there were just stand-alone cameras, there would be nothing wrong with the concept. Identifying everyone on screen without their permission, however, is something different entirely.

It is important to note Germany is already using a surveillance system for luggage that is left behind. These items are reported automatically, and de Maiziere wants to use a similar technology to get more information about potential suspects in criminal cases. Moreover, it is possible this technology will be deployed at the public level as well, so everyone could use it.

To make matters worse, a new proposal is being considered to ban backpacks from public events. While visitors may feel this is hampering their freedom, de Maiziere sees things differently. However, there the matter of whether or not these means can be legally justified, as that remains to be seen.

As was to be expected, there is some serious backlash over these statements. German members of parliament refer to this idea as “rushed” and points to how they would warrant a constitutional change. Using this technology should only be used in extreme situations, rather than making it the new norm.

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