Insights: Out with the Old, In with the New?

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Security is a challenging topic to discuss in public forums. There are always those, who think that less security protects individuals’ freedoms, while others think that adding new security solutions increases people’s safety. Just recently, San Francisco banned the use of facial recognition software by the police and other agencies. Meanwhile, there is debate in the United Kingdom whether the government is doing enough for event venue security. Currently, there are no requirements for venues to have counter terrorism measures in place.

How to balance the desire to develop new technologies for our protection while ensuring no one feels like they are constantly watched by the government or private companies? I believe oversight plays a big part in this issue. Who is allowed to use which technologies, how can they be used, where can they be used? Of course, ultimately countries’ governments of are responsible for legislating the use of any new technology, but it isn’t always easy to reach a consensus on something that people have a lot of opinions on.

In the US, one of the arguments against the use of facial recognition is that it can be racially biased. However, the US government uses the tech, and companies like Amazon have introduced their software to the market. Should businesses have the right to monitor people without their knowledge? Personally, I think it would have to be for a very good reason only. For example, venues where people gather in large masses can attract terrorists. Is it worthwhile to screen everyone who comes in to see if there’s a match in a database?

I have never opted out of a security check, never complained to a person who’s doing their job making sure that I have nothing in my pockets. That’s probably because I’ve always been informed about security or have expected it; we are all trained to accept security checks at airports, for example. I can understand why security done without our knowledge or approval can be intimidating to a lot of people as we might not know how the technology works and what it means for us.

I don’t have an answer on how we should approach these challenges, all I know is that the threat of a terrorist attack looms large on all of our minds. We probably can’t convince everyone that all security equipment and software are there to protect us rather than to harass us. That is why it is probably a good idea to reconsider who can be authorized to use certain types of security equipment and how to inform the public of the ways these technologies are being used.

No one wants to distinguish innovation, and especially not in security, as the bad guys are becoming more cunning and technologically advanced themselves. We have to keep innovating, in order for us to develop better ways to protect the larger and larger masses of people that keep moving into cities. But we also have to make sure that what we come up with still serves a larger purpose, and isn’t just another way to stalk regular citizens. The actually valuable technology can provide law enforcement the tools they need to keep us safe, without making people uncomfortable and try to hinder their use. Ultimately, we all want to be safe but don’t want to showcase all aspects of our lives to people we don’t know.

 Asqella’s ARGON is a discreet method of people screening. It does not record people walking by it, unless an incident is specifically recorded. ARGON’s visual camera can also be turned off, or the faces of people walking by can be blurred.