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U.S. police offered live facial biometrics on bodycams while Argentina force sued over live CCTV system

U.S. police offered live facial biometrics on bodycams while Argentina force sued over live CCTV system
 

Police body camera maker Wolfcom is offering live biometric facial recognition capabilities integrated with its products to law enforcement agencies in the U.S., OneZero reports, making it the first major body camera manufacturer to do so.

Axon declared it would not pursue live facial recognition integration last year, on the recommendation of its Ethics Board. The use of facial recognition in body cameras has been blocked for three years by a moratorium in California, though the Department of Homeland Services published an RFI to explore deploying biometric body cameras in October.

The use of any live facial recognition technology by U.S. law enforcement is highly controversial, but police in Buenos Aires, Argentina have been using it in and around train stations since last April, according to a separate OneZero article.

Wolfcom claims to have sold body cameras 1,500 or more police departments, universities and federal organizations around the world already, and is integrating facial biometrics with its Halo model.

“With Realtime Facial Recognition, WOLFCOM hopes to give our friends in Law Enforcement tools that will help them identify if the person they are talking to is a wanted suspect, a missing child or adult, or a person of interest,” the company’s Founder Peter Austin Onruang wrote in an email to Oklahoma’s Noble Police Department, one of several documents obtained by OneZero.

While there are no known operational deployments of the technology, Las Lunas Police Department confirmed to OneZero that it will begin testing the technology with two officers. The smartphone app that pairs with the body cameras has been downloaded six times, according to the report.

The company did not respond to requests from OneZero for comment.

The beta test involves uploading images from the body camera to the app to perform facial recognition. Shifting to live biometric processing would presumably require another trial.

Details of what database will be used to match the biometrics of people whose images are captured by police body cameras were not provided.

Wolfcom was also claimed as a customer by face redaction startup Suspect Technologies in 2018. The company began manufacturing body cameras in 2011, and says it has sold more than a million units to 1,500 agencies in more than 35 different countries.

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