The iPhone iris mount is causing quite the stir. The device is exactly what its name suggests: a mount on the iPhone that lets the police scan the eye's iris for personal identification.
It weighs about 2.5 ounces, costs $3,000, and is already used by quite a few police departments nationwide.
In addition to scanning the iris for personal identification, the device also uses facial recognition and fingerprint scanning.
The product is officially called Mobile Offender Recognition and Identification System (MORIS) and is made by a company called BI2 Technologies. Most states in the US already use biometric technology BI2; what MORIS does is make all that work on the iPhone.
So far, law enforcement officials who endorse the product and BI2 have listed the following uses for MORIS:
- identifying prisoners
- identifying gang members, sex offenders, and people with outstanding warrants
- identifying people at US borders
- identifying a driver who forgot his driver's license
We are not going to just randomly stop people. It will be used when someone has done something. All probable cause protections remain in place. People don't need to worry about being scooped up, one police officer to Daily Mail.
Sean Mullin, CEO of BI2, told Boston.com that facial recognition photos will will only be taken with your knowledge, probable cause, and, often, with your consent.
He said the utilization of MORIS technology often requires a level of cooperation that makes it very overt - a person knows that you're taking a picture for this purpose.
Still, there are privacy concerns.
One concern is the very existence of this technology and network, which, if hacked, could allow criminals to access the biometric data of innocent people.
Another concern is potential abuses by the government down the road.
What we don't want is for them to become a general surveillance tool, where the police start using them routinely on the general public, collecting biometric information on innocent people, said Jay Stanley of the ACLU, reported Reuters.
And although iris and fingerprint scans are highly accurate, facial recognition technology isn't up to that level yet. There is the danger, therefore, of MORIS wrongfully identifying an individual through facial recognition technology, which could have disastrous consequences.