Electronic Billboards Turn into Digital Wanted Posters

Orwell, eat your heart out: between ads for hamburgers and liposuction, several giant digital billboards on the street flashed an image of Oscar Finch's face taken by a surveillance camera. However, the young man wasn't selling anything: he was running from police. And, as it turns out, he was captured less than a day later, mainly due to the ability of the billboards to act like the wanted posters of the days of yore. "We had been looking for this individual for 10 days and turned it around in 24 hours," said Mobile police spokeswoman Nancy Johnson. "So we're thinking it's going to be highly effective. I think it's a great asset for us."

Twelve billboards showed a grainy mugshot of Finch taken during the Nov. 20 heist. The image, which was mixed in with commercial ads, included his name, his alleged offense and a phone number to contact police. Finch, scared after seeing news coverage of his face on the billboards, turned himself in on Dec. 1, just a day after his photo was posted. With digital billboards, police can now display a suspect's face to thousands of people, sometimes almost immediately after a crime is reported.

News source: SiliconValley.com

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8 Comments

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This kind of thing screams abuse.

Stuff like this in the hands of an institution that has no overriding moral or ethically protocols is a bigger danger to society than not having it at all. I don't trust the wielders of power enough to give then this kind of ability.... it too much of a control mechanism.

If they limit its use to those individuals who are a danger to themselves and others, or those wanted for murder/rape, then I don't really have a problem with it. It would be in the interest of protecting others.

However, using this to broadcast the face of everyone who does something the authorities even slightly dislike is, well, not cool. Can you see it: "WANTED for Music Piracy." "WANTED for going to the loo during TV adverts." "WANTED for voting Democrat and thus hating America."

Billboards were bad enough when it was the marketeers who used them to put their disgusting advertising all over the place. And now we get to put up with their potential government misuse.

The idea is great but considering how untrustworthy governments are I only fear this could be used to curtail civil liberties. The situation in the UK is already quite bad with more surveillance than any other country - I wouldn't want technology like this to come over here, as already the police have too close a connection to the government / politics.

Finch, scared after seeing news coverage of his face on the billboards, turned himself in on Dec. 1, just a day after his photo was posted.

Minor detail there. I still think it's a great idea, just maybe it's not as effective as they may say.

This seems like a great idea! I wonder if they government has to pay the billboard companies for putting the "wanted" ad there. If not, that could really suck for billboard owners

i saw my first electronic billboard on my way to vegas last week. i figured they'd use them for stuff like this and amber alerts

a good thing imo