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Facial recognition has friends in Europe. Live trials of real-time face tracking have taken place over the past year in countries such as the United Kingdom and France, by and large without falling foul of the continent’s sweeping but haphazardly enforced data protection laws.

This should be a wake-up call for regulators to act. But the trials also offer a taste of the public safety argument that will be trotted out to defend this intrusive, flawed technology, glamorized by TV shows like “24” to solve fictional terrorist plots.

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