The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) development of a Biometric Optical Surveillance System (BOSS) has raised concerns among civil rights advocates that the technology is being developed without the necessary safeguards to protect the privacy of citizens.
BOSS is a surveillance system that uses computers and video cameras to scan faces anywhere with the purpose of identifying people through their facial features. The system, officially developed by the DHS for the purpose of identifying fugitives or suspected terrorists, was tested last fall after two years of being developed through government funding.
However, even though BOSS technology is apparently years away from being put to actual use, privacy advocates are already raising concerns over the development of facial recognition technology for use by the government. With expressed fears on the possibility that the system would be used to track everyone’s public movements simply by tapping into the comprehensive database of driver’s license photographs.
The concerns expressed by civil rights advocates are undoubtedly underpinned by the leaks released by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. who revealed details of several top-secret United States and British government mass surveillance programs to the press.
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