Here at Ars, we often speak of facial-recognition technology as some Orwellian surveillance method that will one day be deployed by governments or other actors to chronicle our every move—perhaps for nefarious purposes. We reported Wednesday that the Department of Homeland Security is pushing a plan that would require all Americans to submit to a facial-recognition scan when flying out of the country. Whether that's good or bad is open for debate. To add to that, the nation's spy agencies have asked the public to help make biometrics more accurate.
While we're not at an Orwellian point in time yet with biometrics, facial-recognition technology is being used for good, no matter how scary the technology sounds. Consider that Nevada authorities have announced that biometrics was behind the arrest of a violent criminal who escaped from prison 25 years ago. It's another in a string of arrests in which biometrics essentially paved the way for a bad guy's capture.
What led to the recent arrest of 64-year-old career criminal Robert Frederick Nelson of North Las Vegas, who committed a number of felonies after escaping from a Minnesota prison in 1992? He applied for a Nevada ID card, and the Silver State's facial recognition tech doomed him.