Law enforcement represents one of the most interesting application areas for mobile identity technology, most notably with respect to the emergence of biometric handheld devices. Police and other law enforcement agencies now have access to mobile devices that can scan criminal suspects’ fingerprints in the field and immediately match them against profiles in remote databases.
Other new mobile devices, such as wearables, are also starting to be embraced by law enforcement agencies. Police in some parts of China, for example, have taken advantage of biometric smart glasses that can automatically scan the faces in a crowd to find matches against government watchlists. And facial recognition is also playing a growing role in smart city surveillance.
At the same time, these innovations have led to new areas of contention. There are growing concerns about the use of facial recognition by police, and there is an ongoing debate in the legal world about whether law enforcement authorities can compel suspects to biometrically unlock their mobile devices. These issues further underline the importance of mobile identity tech in law enforcement, both in the aid of police and as a complicating factor.