A breakthrough in Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology has troubling implications for the government’s ability to track and surveil its citizens. In an MIT video, researchers explain how this new technology can be used to scan faces and even detect fingerprints from afar. Using the technology you can “see the fine wrinkles in his face, you can see the hair, and if he held up his finger you could probably get his fingerprints,” he says.
The new LIDAR technology uses photons and waveforms to exploit high frequencies of light and allows for scans with precision down to 2 microns; precise enough to detect wrinkles in skin and the ridges on a fingertip from a moving car. In the presentation, the new LIDAR technology is shown to work from a moving vehicle, and presents imagery of a street level scan of pedestrians, cars and bicyclists. This allows the technology to be deployed in self-driving cars and gives it the potential for use in mass surveillance. In this application, it would join other surveillance tools and methods such as cell phone tracking, surveillance cameras, satellite imagery and internet eavesdropping. If deployed on a large enough scale, say, in “smart cars”, it would allow for real time tracking of any person, anywhere in the country.