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IP: 'Intelligent' computer matches mugshots w/ faces in a crowd




From: [email protected]
Subject: IP: 'Intelligent' computer matches mugshots w/ faces in a crowd
Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 08:46:25 -0500
To: [email protected]

Source:  Fox News - AP

'Intelligent' computer system matches mug shots with faces in a crowd
 9.22 p.m. ET (123 GMT) October 17, 1998

 LONDON (AP)  An "intelligent'' computer system that uses closed circuit
television to match faces in a crowd to mug shots of known criminals is
likely to become London's latest weapon against crime. 

 Scotland Yard and a local council have installed the $100,000 CCTV system
on a trial basis in Newham, a poor district in London's East End. 

 Newspapers reported Thursday that the computer system, called Mandrake, is
linked to 144 CCTVs in Newham's shopping centers, railway stations and car
parks and can scan up to 150 faces at a time and compare them with a
database of criminals stored on a computer at the council's headquarters. 

 If there is a match between a face in the crowd and a known criminal, the
computer alerts a monitoring team in the town hall, who in turn alert the
police. 

 Civil liberties groups said they were alarmed by the new system, but
police defended its use. 

 "The only people entered on to the system will be convicted criminals who,
through our intelligence, we believe are habitually committing crimes in
the area,'' The Daily Mail quoted police Chief Superintendent Dave Armond
as saying. "If people are not committing crime they have nothing to fear,
but if they are among the small minority who are, the message is, 'We are
watching out for you.''' 

 The newspaper reported that police initially will use the system to
concentrate on catching robbery suspects. In the future, however, it could
be used to search crowds for hooligans who stir up trouble at soccer matches. 

 CCTV's developer, Software and Systems International, says the system is
accurate enough to discern people hiding behind make-up or eye glasses. And
growing a beard won't help either, the company says. 

 Britain has 150,000 close circuit television cameras. While most Britons
appear happy the devices are being used to tackle crime, civil liberties
groups oppose both the cameras and the facial matching. 

 "The accuracy of facial mapping like this is limited. You only need a
handful of photographs of celebrities to see how different the same people
can look in different pictures,'' the Mail quoted Liz Parratt, spokeswoman
for Liberty, a civil rights group, as saying. "Even if you did have a
system which worked, it would have to be regulated very carefully to
protect people's privacy.'' 

                   1998 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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