Facial Recognition And Beyond: Journalist Ventures Inside China’s ‘Surveillance State’

source:  NPR.org

Security cameras and facial recognition technology are on the rise in China. In 2018, People’s Daily, the media mouthpiece of China’s ruling Communist Party, claimed on English-language Twitter that the country’s facial recognition system was capable of scanning the faces of China’s 1.4 billion citizens in just one second.

German journalist Kai Strittmatter speaks fluent Mandarin and has studied China for more than 30 years. He says it’s not clear whether or not the Chinese government is capable of using facial recognition software in the way it claims. But he adds, on a certain level, the veracity of the claim isn’t important.

“It doesn’t even matter whether it’s true or not, as long as people believe it,” he says. “What the Communist Party is doing with all this high-tech surveillance technology now is they’re trying to internalize control. … Once you believe it’s true, it’s like you don’t even need the policemen at the corner anymore, because you’re becoming your own policeman.”

Strittmatter’s new book, We Have Been Harmonized: Life in China’s Surveillance State, examines the role of surveillance in China’s authoritarian state. He warns that Chinese President Xi Jinping, who came to power in 2012, has embraced an ideological rigidity unknown since the days of Mao Zedong.

Continue reading “Facial Recognition And Beyond: Journalist Ventures Inside China’s ‘Surveillance State’”

How to ‘Disappear’ on Happiness Avenue in Beijing

On a busy Monday afternoon in late October, a line of people in reflective vests stood on Happiness Avenue, in downtown Beijing.


Moving slowly and carefully along the pavement, some crouched, others tilted their heads towards the ground, as curious onlookers snapped photos.

It was a performance staged by the artist Deng Yufeng, who was trying to demonstrate how difficult it was to dodge CCTV cameras in the Chinese capital.

As governments and companies around the world boost their investments in security networks, hundreds of millions more surveillance cameras are expected to be installed in 2021 – and most of them will be in China, according to industry analysts IHS Markit.

By 2018, there were already about 200 million surveillance cameras in China.

And by 2021 this number is expected to reach 560 million, according to the Wall Street Journal, roughly one for every 2.4 citizens.

China says the cameras prevent crime.

And in 2018, the number of victims of intentional homicide per head of population in China was 10 times lower than in the US, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

But a growing number of Chinese citizens are questioning the effect on their privacy.

They also wonder what would happen if their personal data was compromised.

‘Recruited volunteers’

It is rare for Chinese citizens to stage protests against government surveillance.

And it is not without risk.

But creative types such as Deng are coming up with innovative ways to bring the issue out into the open.

Before the performance, he measured the length and width of Happiness Avenue with a ruler.

He then recorded the brands of the 89 CCTV cameras alongside it and mapped out their distributions and ranges.

Sci-fi Surveillance: Europe’s Secretive Push Into Biometric Technology

source: theguardian.com

 

 

 

surveillance illustration
EU science funding is being spent on developing new tools for policing and security. But who decides how far we need to submit to artificial intelligence?.

atrick Breyer didn’t expect to have to take the European commission to court. The softly spoken German MEP was startled when in July 2019 he read about a new technology to detect from facial “micro-expressions” when somebody is lying while answering questions.

Even more startling was that the EU was funding research into this virtual mindreader through a project called iBorderCtrl, for potential use in policing Europe’s borders. In the article that Breyer read, a reporter described taking a test on the border between Serbia and Hungary. She told the truth, but the AI border guard said she had lied.

A member of the European parliament’s civil liberties committee and one of four MEPs for the Pirate party, Breyer realised that iBorderCtrl’s ethical and privacy implications were immense. He feared that if such technology – or as he now calls it, “pseudo-scientific security hocus pocus” – was available to those in charge of policing borders, then people of colour, women, elderly people, children and people with disabilities could be more likely than others to be falsely reported as liars.

Using EU transparency laws, he requested more information from the European commission on the ethics and legality of the project. Its response was jarring: access denied, in the name of protecting trade secrets.

So Breyer sued. He wants the European court of justice to rule that there is an overriding public interest in releasing the documents. “The European Union is funding illegal technology that violates fundamental rights and is unethical,” Breyer claimed.

Breyer’s case, which is expected to come before the court in the new year, has far-reaching implications. Billions of euros in public funding flow annually to researching controversial security technologies, and at least €1.3bn more will be released over the next seven years.

Continue reading “Sci-fi Surveillance: Europe’s Secretive Push Into Biometric Technology”

 

 

The world’s largest surveillance system is growing—and so is the backlash

source: fortune.com

 

China already has the world’s largest surveillance network; it deploys over half of all surveillance cameras in use around the world. Now, a new report shows just how fast that system is expanding.

ChinaFile, which operates as a nonprofit organization and works with a network of China-focused analysts and researchers, published the stand-alone State of Surveillance report after reviewing 76,000 publicly available government procurement orders of surveillance technologies from 2004 to May 2020. The report provides a comprehensive look at the scale of China’s surveillance program; Beijing does not widely publicize such information through other means.

The report showcases China’s yearslong push to become a global surveillance superpower.

Continue reading “The world’s largest surveillance system”

Creepy ‘Geofence’ Finds Anyone Who Went Near a Crime Scene

Police increasingly ask Google and other tech firms for data about who was where, when. Two judges ruled the investigative tool invalid in a Chicago case.

source:  wired.com

 

IN 2018, 23-YEAR-OLD Jorge Molina was arrested and jailed for six days on suspicion of killing another man. Police in Avondale, Arizona, about 20 miles from Phoenix, held Molina for questioning. According to a police report, officers told him they knew “one hundred percent, without a doubt” his phone was at the scene of the crime, based on data from Google. In fact, Molina wasn’t there. He’d simply lent an old phone to the man police later arrested. The phone was still signed into his Google account.

The information about Molina’s phone came from a geofence warrant, a relatively new and increasingly popular investigative technique police use to track suspects’ locations. Traditionally, police identify a suspect, then issue a warrant to search the person’s home or belongings.

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source:  cnet.com

photo by Josh Sorensen for Pexels.com

Palmer Luckey rose to tech fame for inventing the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset that helped generate interest in the technology. Now he’s got a different type of tech product to show off: the Ghost 4 military drone.

Built by Luckey’s new company, called Anduril Industries, the two-meter aircraft can be carried in a backpack and is designed to withstand the sand, mud and seawater of military operations. Anduril, which announced the drone Thursday, said the Ghost 4 has a 100-minute flight time and can be autonomously or remotely piloted. It can carry cameras, radio-jamming systems or lasers to spotlight targets. And it can drop packages weighing as much as 35 pounds.

Onboard artificial intelligence algorithms have been tuned to identify and track people, missiles and battlefield equipment. One Ghost 4 drone can join with other Ghost 4 drones to form a data-sharing swarm to relay information back to Lattice, Anduril’s situation monitoring system.

Continue reading “Oculus Founder’s Ghost 4 Military Drones Use AI for Surveillance and Attack”

source: threatpost.com

Algorithms clocked error rates of between 5% to 50% when comparing photos of people wearing digitally created masks with unmasked faces.
Face masks not only have shown in research to slow the spread of COVID-19, they also deter facial-recognition technology from correctly identifying people, according to a new study.

New research from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) found that even the best of 89 commercial facial recognition algorithms tested experienced error rates between 5 percent and 50 percent when matching people in digitally applied face masks with photos of the same person without a mask.

The study shows the limitations of facial-recognition technology in a post-pandemic world and are aimed at developing and testing technology that takes into consideration how to identify people who are masked, said Mei Ngan, a NIST computer scientist and the report’s author, in a press statement.

Continue reading “FACIAL-RECOGNITION FLOP: FACE MASKS THWART VIRUS, STUMP SECURITY SYSTEMS”

source: nakedsecurity.sophos.com

It’s simple: Boston doesn’t want to use crappy technology.

Boston Police Department (BPD) Commissioner William Gross said last month that abysmal error rates – errors that mean it screws up most particularly with Asian, dark or female skin – make Boston’s recently enacted ban on facial recognition use by city government a no-brainer:

Until this technology is 100%, I’m not interested in it. I didn’t forget that I’m African American and I can be misidentified as well.

Thus did the city become the second-largest in the world, after San Francisco, to ban use of the infamously lousy, hard-baked racist/sexist technology. The city council voted unanimously on the bill on 24 Jun – here’s the full text, and here’s a video of the 3.5-hour meeting that preceded the vote – and Mayor Marty Walsh signed it into law last week.

The Boston Police Department (BPD) isn’t losing anything. It doesn’t even use the technology. Why? Because it doesn’t work. Make that it doesn’t work well. The “iffy” factor matters most particularly if you’re Native American, black, asian or female, given high error rates with all but the mostly white males who created the algorithms it runs on.

Continue reading “BOSTON BANS GOVERNMENT USE OF FACIAL RECOGNITION”

source:  independent.co.uk

 

Facial recognition technology is becoming an “epidemic” across shopping centres, museums and public spaces in the UK, campaigners have warned.

Following the revelation that hundreds of thousands of visitors to the area around King’s Cross railway station in London were being covertly scanned, Big Brother Watch said other private companies had also used the controversial technology.

Owners of Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre have trialled facial recognition, as have the World Museum in Liverpool and the Millennium Point conference centre in Birmingham.

Last year, the Trafford Centre in Manchester was pressured to stop using live facial recognition after six months of monitoring visitors following an intervention by the surveillance camera commissioner, Tony Porter.

Silkie Carlo, director Big Brother Watch, said: There is an epidemic of facial recognition in the UK.

The collusion between police and private companies in building these surveillance nets around popular spaces is deeply disturbing.

Facial recognition is the perfect tool of oppression and the widespread use we’ve found indicates we’re facing a privacy emergency.”

Continue reading “FACIAL RECOGNITION BECOMING ‘EPIDEMIC’ IN BRITISH PUBLIC SPACES”

source:  independent.co.uk

 

surveillance illustration

Researchers in China have developed an ultra-powerful camera capable of identifying a single person among stadium crowds of tens of thousands of people.

The 500-megapixel camera was developed by scientists at Fudan University, in conjunction with Changchun Institute of Optics from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Its resolution is five-times more detailed than the human eye but it is not the most high-resolution camera ever developed. A 570-megapixel camera was put to work at an observatory in Chile in 2018, however its purpose is to point skywards in the hope of observing distant galaxies.

The camera is instead built for surveillance, with Chinese state media praising the camera’s “military, national defence and public security applications”.

Continue reading “CHINA INVENTS SUPER SURVEILLANCE CAMERA”