Over the weekend in the wake of London riots, a new Google Group called “London Riots Facial Recognition” appeared online, with a goal to use facial recognition technologies to identify the rioters who appear in online photos.
“Rioters went on the rampage in north London on Saturday, torching police cars, a bus and a shop amid widespread looting following a protest over the fatal shooting of a man by armed officers. The patrol cars and the double-decker bus were set ablaze as hundreds ran amok outside the police station on the High Road in Tottenham.”
The group appears to be thoughtfully considering its actions, in threads titled “Ethical Issues,” and “Keeping Things Legal,” for example. They’ve also stated that “it’s important we only use legal sources for images.”
While clearly, we have nothing against criminals being brought to justice, there still may be some concerns involved with this type of online behavior. As argued here on Hacker News, this method could incriminate people who were not participating, but were bystanders, or simply trying to get home. Whether their actions here are legal, whether or not they involve public photos, the question is – do we want to crowdsource justice in this way?
In a thread, started just this morning, a commenter offers their assistance in building a tool using the Face.API, which could help identify people in photos posted on Facebook, Flickr and Twitter.
There is even talk of using the Facebook Graph API and the Twitter API in conjunction with the Face.com one to help better identify the criminals.
Reference: London Riots Facial Recognition