SALT LAKE CITY Security planners for the 2002 Winter
Olympics are examining video surveillance equipment used during the
Super Bowl, a system some consider to be Big Brother-like.
Each facial image of the 100,000 fans and workers passing
through the turnstiles at Raymond James Stadium for the Super Bowl was
digitized and checked electronically against computer files of
No arrests were made, but the system did identify a known ticket
scalper, who fled into the crowd.
Representatives of the Utah Olympic Planning Security Command
watched the system in action. While no decision has been made,
UOPSC leaders liked what they saw.
"It certainly has value," said Christopher Kramer, UOPSC
spokesman. "It could be a preventative measure to stop
Tampa police spokesman Joe Durkin encouraged Olympic planners to
consider the system.
"At any international event, the potential for a terrorist
event is much greater," Durkin said. "We were impressed; the
system makes a match within seconds."
The software, developed by scientists of the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology in the early 1990s, is owned and marketed
by Viisage Technology of Littleton, Mass.
Company spokeswoman Gretchen Lewis declined to put a price tag
on the system, which was loaned to Tampa police in an attempt to
market the technology.
The American Civil Liberties Union called it the "Snooper
Bowl," saying it subjected unsuspecting fans to a "computerized
In a letter to Tampa city officials, the civil liberties group
asked for public hearings to discuss the practice and air
"We're hoping to get answers to a lot of questions," Howard
Simon, Florida ACLU executive director, said Friday. "Who
authorized it? Why weren't people informed they were becoming part
of a computerized police lineup?"
The equipment assigns a numeric value to every face based on
elements such as the spacing between eyes, ears and nose. Variants
such as facial hair and glasses would not prevent a match in the
Carol Gnade, executive director of the Utah ACLU, feared the
technology is "outpacing our basic privacy rights."
Utah Department of Corrections officials have tested the
technology and are considering purchasing it for security at the
prison, department spokesman Jack Ford said.
The system is already in place in some prisons, driver-license
bureaus and Las Vegas casinos, where floor bosses are on the
lookout for known cheats.||
Super Bowl crowd scanned by crook-sniffing computer