Germany considers face recognition tech to stop attacks
22 August 2016, 16:42
Berlin - Germany's Interior Minister says he wants
to introduce facial recognition software at train stations and airports to help
identify suspects following two attacks in the country last month.
In a report published on Sunday in the German
newspaper Bild am Sonntag, Thomas de
Maiziere said internet software was able to determine whether persons shown in
photographs were celebrities or politicians.
"I would like to use this kind of facial
recognition technology in video cameras at airports and train stations. Then,
if a suspect appears and is recognised, it will show up in the system," he
told the paper.
He said a similar system was already being tested
for unattended luggage, which the camera reports after a certain number of
Other countries are also looking at such
technology, but Germans have traditionally been sceptical of surveillance due
to abuses by the Stasi secret police in East Germany and the Gestapo under the
Konstantin von Notz, a spokesperson for the Green
Party on digital issues, said de Maiziere's plan was "half-baked".
He told dpa news agency that the technology would
entail enormous costs and, in his view, should only be used for certain events.
"For example, if one had a concrete indication
of a planned attack at an airport."
Germany on edge
Burkhard Lischka, the domestic political affairs
expert for the centre-left Social Democrats, also told DPA that he
"wouldn't be against such measures".
But Lischka also wanted a comprehensive update of the country's security technology, saying
that installing such system on outdated computers "is like putting
frosting on a cake that hasn't been baked".
Germany is on edge after the armed group ISIS
claimed two attacks in July, one on a train near Wuerzburg and one at a music
festival in Ansbach, in which 20 people were injured.
As a result, organisers of the world's biggest beer
festival, Munich's Oktoberfest, have raised security, including banning
rucksacks, introducing security checks at all entrances and erecting fencing.
De Maiziere said a ban on rucksacks at large-scale
events could also be useful, adding that it would be up to on-site security
officials to take that decision.
"We will have to get used to increased
security measures, such as longer queues, stricter checks or personal entry
cards. This is tedious, uncomfortable and costs time but I don't think it's a
limitation of personal freedom," he said.