One thought on “Facial Recognition and Law Enforcement – TMO Daily Observations 2019-04-16

  • The existence and retention of further surveillance data creates a milieu wherein anyone who wants access to the data will try to gain that access and over time, barriers will disappear. It exists, why can’t I use it? To surveil my spouse? My business competitors? etc. In one sense, facial data is the holy grail of surveillance data. It’s your face, it’s the ultimate proof of identity, at the moment.

    If you’re staring face-on to a camera, like a TSA checkpoint, it works pretty well, but identifying individuals off street facing cameras across the road is a total fail technologically and is done by humans making a good guess. Putting about the idea that the technological solution is only a matter of time, is the surveillance state holy grail. In reality, it’s hampered by the garbage-in-garbage-out factor – if the image is partial/no good, there’s nothing that can be done, but it won’t stop anyone with an interest in this holy grail promoting it as solvable and pursuing it at all costs.

    In circumstances where one is required to provide proof of identity, facial recognition is valid. But as a general surveillance availability, like backdoors to iPhones, that’s a very dangerous path indeed.

    Likely the same thing is happening in the US, but I only know about my country. In Australia, for example, we have warrantless access to phone and internet metadata, and availability creep is a fact of life. Here’s a history of it. The same will happen for facial recognition.

    The “joke” used to be one state’s department of horse racing was granted access to all Australians’ phone and internet metadata “to improve service” that department could provide. It’s a surveillance free-for-all. And naturally, all this and more is available to Five Eyes regimes.

    2013 Warrants will only hamper law enforcement.

    2015 Creep begins.

    2016 How to get around protections.

    2017 Pressure to extend to civil cases.

    2018 No proof data retention even does the good that was promised, but government seeks to expand powers.

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