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Tampa cops send face recognition code packing

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Tampa's Police Department has abandoned a two-year face recognition trial which failed to provide a single identification or arrest, let alone a conviction.

The district's citizens didn't lose too much money, as Identix Inc (then Visionics Corp.) installed the system in June 2001 at their own expense.

"It was of no benefit to us, and it served no real purpose," a spokesman told the Palm Beach Post. The Post adds that face recognition trials in Pinellas County and in Virginia Beach have failed to produce a single arrest either.

Law enforcement officials defend the technology on the grounds that it produces impressive results in "controlled" situations, and maintain it has a deterrent effect. How long it remains a deterrent, when it is clearly so ineffective, remains to be seen.

It's surely better that this technology remains broken. In Scotland, as we reported in May, Grampian Police's Chief Inspector Carl Ashcroft conceded that the Imagis system in use was around 70 per cent reliable in crowd situations, far better than the 50 per cent or less reliability attached to earlier systems.

Which means there's now only a 30 per cent chance of you being hauled in on suss. Which is nothing to worry about, is it? ®

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