U.K. police are struggling to keep up with the widespread riots that have hit London over the last few days. Meanwhile, a new Google Group called London Riots Facial Recognition has taken justice into its own hands.
The goal of the group? To use facial recognition tech to identify looters from online riot photos.
The group plans to cross-reference riot photos to those on websites like Facebook, Flickr and Twitter, and maybe even Face.com, to help identify rioters.
Granted, the group is reportedly working to keep their investigations legit—for example, by only using legal sources for images. However, this type of “citizen policework” raises some questions. (First and foremost, what about innocent bystanders who just happen to be part of a given photograph?) And it’s still unclear what these investigators will do once they ID a rioter: will they contact London police, inform the source of the photograph or seek out another agency? Do police even want this information from citizens?
I for one would prefer my facial recognition investigations be completed by law enforcement. What about you?