US cops' Iris scanner "has no place in a free society"

A biometric iris and facial scanning device, which will soon be used by police forces in the US, has been described as having “no place in a free society”.

The technology, known as the Mobile Offender Recognition and Information System (MORIS) is a smartphone-based scanner, which slides over an iPhone.

It can be activated on a crime site or at a police station.

According to its developers B12, it’s more accurate than traditional fingerprinting and can scan a suspect’s iris. It will swiftly identify a suspect by detecting the unique patterns in a person’s eyes.

This information is then run through software and the US criminal records database to find a match.

However, the $3,000 device will not receive a warm welcome from privacy advocates.

Maria Fort at Big Brother Watch tells TechEye: “While police should not be impeded from carrying out legal criminal investigations, the use of this technology on a regular basis crosses a serious line.

“Capturing the biometrics and images of suspects in custody or charged with a crime is one thing, but this is quite another.  When this technology is used on innocent, private citizens as a preventative measure, the premise of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ becomes murky and everyone is treated as a potential criminal.

“Covertly using facial recognition technology on anyone other than a charged or convicted criminal is simply uncalled for, especially when it is still developing and not without its failures, leaving innocent people at risk of accusation based on technology alone.

“Measures like this have no place in a free society.”

B12 issued a rebuttal to Reuters, saying that its device should be used in a close proximity. Its defence amounts to difficulties in “covertly” identifying suspects.

If the technology gets the go-ahead then around 40 forces in the US will use it.

Although it’s easy to make connections to science fiction, it’s hard not to draw comparisons with the iris swapping as seen in Minority Report.