The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office is reportedly becoming the first public agency in the Bay Area to force sex offenders to submit iris scanning.
Many anticipate that this new strategy will jump-start debate regarding how police officials should be using this powerful technology.
Seeing Through a Criminal’s Eye
The human iris has a unique texture that can be used as a map in a searchable database.
Proponents of the technology claim that although it won’t replace fingerprinting, it offers a speedier and more accurate way to detect criminals.
However, unlike fingerprints, criminals don’t leave their irises at the scene of a crime, so many believe that this technology could prove to be less effective than police anticipate.
“We’re at the infancy of this whole thing,” admits Sgt. J.D. Nelson, the spokesman for the sheriff’s department.
Invasion of Privacy?
Stuart Hanlon, a San Francisco defense attorney, said he was concerned about the iris scanners and their invasion on people’s privacy.
“I don’t know why police would start this without some legislation to back it up,” said Hanlon.
According to Robert Melley, the chief operating officer of a company who manufactures the scanners, “An officer will eventually be able to have a hand-held iris recognition scanner on his or her belt, and as part of a routine to stop traffic, he or she could simply ask the driver and passengers to look into this camera.”
Cristina Arguedas, a defense attorney in Berkeley says that she is skeptical of this new system.
“That sounds like an invasion of privacy to me, certainly to the passengers and to anyone who didn’t do anything wrong.”
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