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Privacy

Your Face Is Not a Bar Code 292

Posted by michael
from the every-move-you-make dept.
Phil Agre has a solid essay opposing automatic face recognition systems in public areas. These uses are only going to increase, because the technology is cheap (enough) and appealing to authorities everywhere; it's good to have some arguments to hand for opposing the spread of the cameras.
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Your Face Is Not a Bar Code

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  • by purduephotog (218304) <hirsch@nOSpAm.inorbit.com> on Saturday September 08, 2001 @09:07AM (#2267073) Homepage Journal
    Just because law enforcement would like to use it for catching criminals doesn't mean it can't be used for good.

    Think about it- Similiar to Gates's house- walk into a room, machine recognizes your face (instead of the pin) and changes your pictures on the wall to suit.

    Authenticate your identity online to prevent fraud (although, some Celebs might have trouble with that... 3 million elvis's ... :P

    Search your high school yearbook- search old newspaper clippings...

    And.... catch some known pedophile that's broken parole.

    It's a great technology for those who don't run afoul of the law... but... the power and lack of regulation are very worrying.
    • I agree most of the applications that you suggested are quite valid, but the crucial point is not in a public area...

      Gate's House is not a public place, authenticate my identity when shopping online implies that I am sitting behind *my* computer, old newpaper clippings do not show my jelly belly when I was sunbathing at the local beach.... Catch my point?

      • I think that is one of they key points. It's in public where I feel privacy is being invaded. That sounds like a strange comment, but it's accurate.

        Privacy seems to be extended to included a variable of time. if someone sees me at the gas station, it's no big deal. If someone sees me at the pool, it's no big deal. If someone has a record of the exact times I did anything... that's a big deal. I think one of the biggest dangers is if identification is logged, along with location and other details.

        With today's AI and data processing technologies, it could be frightening how easy it would be to find out every bit of information about someone.

        This goes along similarly with my opinion on Marketting. Recording details about spending habits and interests of different demographics is one thing... but when they start using that information to approach the individuals directly... that seems like it has gone too far.

        Using such information is good, as long as it stays as a statistical analysis tool... not as a tracking tool. Facial recognition and just WHAT is marked in some record might fall along similar lines.

        Cheers,
        -Alex
  • Face recognition (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It's not all bad, though.

    Automatic surveillance would release police resources, which are currently being stretched to the limit, to more useful purposes like responding quickly to emergencies.

    It's surprising to see how anti-law enforcement the /. crowd really is. The only thing that's keeping you, your families and your property safe is a robust law enforcement system. Without law enforcement your precious computers and consoles would be stolen in no time.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      The only thing that's keeping you, your families and your property safe is a robust law enforcement system

      This is the basic arguement of every attack on civil liberties. The job of the police is not to protect the citizens, it is to enforce the law only. The responsibility of protecting "you, your families and your property" is yours. This responsibility can not be deligated to the government in a free society.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Nobody here is any-law enforcement.

      We can all read history and know that police will over time become facist. We all saw the Rodney King video .

      We see and the need to control is inherent in the makeup of people who become policemen.

      We understand the "war on drugs" has been used as an excuse to steal property without due process.

      We see its obvious that police use radar and laser tools to raise revenue.

      We know too well that police will stop people they don't like to hassle them.

      We read the paper where a county in suburban Washington DC routinely kills minorities on traffic stops.

      We understand that cops are underpaid public servants with a big gun and a napoleon complex.

      We understand the "war on drugs" has been an excuse for police departments to expand their budgets and authority.

      We see this fall Washington DC police will be making the city into an armed camp because peaceful demonstrations will be taking place. Policemen see this as a direct assault on their authority and are itching to use mace and clubs on a bunch of kids.

      So please don't presume to lecture us.
    • by jageryager (189071)
      It's surprising to see how anti-law enforcement the /. crowd really is. The only thing that's keeping you,
      your families and your property safe is a robust law enforcement system. Without law enforcement your
      precious computers and consoles would be stolen in no time.
      NO! NO! NO! The robust law enforcement is not keeping me, or my family, or my property safe from all the scumbags out there. All the police can do is swing by after the fact to collect evidence, and pick up the bodies. It is not their job to protect us, in spite of how many movie plots that have police guarding people.

      They actually spend a lot of time beating us down. Here in NY, USA we have zero tolerance for seat belt offenders, with police roadblocks for enforcement. In USA the Federal Gov't has most law enforcement spending a majority of their time chasing victimless criminals like pot smokers.

      Ask yourself how much you will like the new "law enforcement" tool when it is used to beat you down? Your kid took a spin on his bike without a helmet, so you have endangered his welfare and are arrested. You or someone who looks like you are seen buying wine regularly so you must be watched closely just in case you happen to drive drunk. You or someone who looks like you attend a Libertarian conference so you deserve a little extra harassment just for being different. You look a lot like a real badguy so you and your family are held at gunpoint will you get arrested every time you go into a public place.

      Kevin

      • That's a bit of a non-sequitur, saying that since the police aren't at your place to protect you directly, they're not keeping you safe. The police are keeping you safe by putting criminals behind bars. Sure, they can't always get somewhere in time to stop someone from being victimized, but by catching a criminal after one crime, they protect us from subsequent crimes by the same criminal.

    • It's surprising to see how anti-law enforcement the /. crowd really is. The only thing that's keeping you, your families and your property safe is a robust law enforcement system. Without law enforcement your precious computers and consoles would be stolen in no time.

      Without law enforcement, I would be free to give the people who almost run me over on my bike every day exactly what they deserve... a slashed tire, cracked windshield, or sugared gas tank. Without law enforcement, I would be free to defend myself via whatever means I feel are adequate, rather than what the state allows me to defend myself with. Today my pocket knife was stolen by the Chicago Police Department. Since I can hear you saying "so what" let me explain that this knife had a lot of sentimental value. It was a gift from a friend of mine who lives in Hungary, it was handmade with a genuine ivory handle. There is no way I can possibly replace the knife, and even if I could, it wouldn't be the one Gergei gave me. It was taken because it was "longer than 2.25 inches". I was frisked after being stopped by police for kicking a car that veered in front of me while I was riding down the street. Have you ever been frisked? Publicly, on the side of a busy city street with your palms down on the trunk of an unmarked police car and your legs spread? Your opinion of law enforcement will be irrevocably degraded after you have, particularly when it happens under such dubious "reasonable suspicion".
  • As computer geeks we all know that no matter how good the coders are that design the software, it still can and still WILL make mistakes.

    And in things like this where having the same earlobes and chin as someone will get you taken down in a public place..... well, I wouldn't want it to happen to me.

    • Re:As computer geeks (Score:5, Interesting)

      by UltraBot2K1 (320256) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @09:15AM (#2267099) Homepage Journal
      The cameras are not going to be used as a definitive identification device. There is a margin of error with all forms of identification. Eyewitness accounts have been proven to be inaccurate numerous times in the past. The cameras are simply a tool to help law enforcement officers perform their job more effectively. They are NOT the judge, jury and excecutioner. They ARE an effective method of helping the police identify possible fugitives. I think anything that takes some of the strain off of law enforcement officers and increases police efficiency should be embraced with open arms.

      The cameras aren't infringing upon anyone's rights. You ARE NOT entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy when you are in a public place. You ARE entitled to privacy within the confines of your home or private property. But that's not the issue. I don't understand how you can possibly be upset about someone taking your picture in public. If you've done nothing wrong, you should have nothing to hide, and applaud this system for making the streets safer for our children.
      • I agree, we are not entitled to expectation of privacy. I (and you and everyone else) have video of me taken probably as much as any hollywood movie star when I go to the local quickee-mart, to K-mart, to just about anywhere. That doesn't bother me.

        What bothers me is that someone is going to be sitting in a control desk, drinking coffee, when his terminal beeps an alarm that there is a pedophile loose in HIS store. He pulls up the profile and it's a real sick bastard, wanted in seven states. Looks just like the guy in the store. Well, he thinks, I better call for backup and 5 minutes later, a perfectly innocent man is taken into custody. They rough him up a little in the car, too, just for fun. And if he resists... even if he used to be innocent, now he looking at some serious charges.

        I am sure that this scenario will happen MANY times over. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if this happens MORE often than they take down legitimate criminals. Why? Because this technology CAN'T be perfect, nor even very close. There are over 6 billion people in the world, and of all of them, there can't be more than several thousand face types. Sure, you throw in several combinations of features and you can get pretty good but I think you would still be swinging at less than 50% accuracy with it and THAT's not good enough.

        • The FBI maintains a database containing millions of images of fingerprints. This database is used to match prints lifted off a crime scene with an individual. The concept is the same. A computer compares two digital images, and if enough similarity is present, identifies a match. This system has been in place for YEARS, and I haven't heard of any wrongful arrests arising from it.

          On a similar note, what if you happen to be walking down the street, and a cop spots you because you look remarkably similar to Joe Drugtrafficer on the FBI's most wanted list. The officer makes a visual match and takes you downtown for questioning. The principle is the same, only in my scenerio, the match is made from the officers own recollection of the wanted man's face. I would argue that a computer match of a high resolution digital image would be, in fact, MORE ACCURATE than a police officer making an identification from his mental image of a criminal. These kind of false identifications happen all the time, and are usually cleared up in a matter of minutes after the falsely accused presents some kind of identification.
          • Firstoff, fingerprint matching is completely different. There are *practically* an unlimited number of completely unique fingerprint patterns all with distinct easily quantifiable differences. If you get a finger-print, it will look like the one on record, and only the one on record. There are flaws every once in a while, but they are statistically no big deal.

            Face recognition, however, is not so exact. There are not unlimited unique faces. That's a fact. People look alike ALL THE TIME. Don't try to tell me that you can tell the difference between Gary Busy and Nick Nolte all the time. I'm sure I look like about 30,000 other people on this planet. As do you. If you bring up ethnicity, there are similar problems, chinese people look chinese, white people look white, black people look black. I know you've thought to yourself (and it's a popular thing to stereotype), all those X people look alike. This software will do the same thing.

            Also, on your point of a cop being able to recognize you from memory. Yes, a computer would be more accurate. But that is when your face is compared to a discrete number of criminals. The cop can only remember so many people's faces, and you probably don't look like any of them. The image database could contain millions upon millions of images. I guarantee you would look EXACTLY like one or more. So much so that it might be justified to bring you in. PLUS, a cop will see you once in a while, this thing could run your image 100 times a day. Eventually, the combination of light, reflection, angle, image quality will line up just right, and you WILL match someone. It's a fact.

            THAT bothers me, and it should bother you too.

            • Face recognition, however, is not so exact. There are not unlimited unique faces.


              You're joking, right? Faces are of course as unique as fingerprints, possibly even more so (I'm not sure about identical twins). I even know identical twins and I can tell the difference between them easily. I'm sure a cop couldn't, because s/he hasn't know them for a long time. Likewise, a computer potentially could, because it, like I, have a very good memory of the face. Ironically, you'd get fewer false positives if the computer had everyone's face, both the criminals and the upstanding citizens.


              Information wants to be free. If you want your face to be protected, don't ever go into public. Otherwise I feel the police have every right to track and monitor anything you do in public. The only thing I expect is that they prosecute as soon as possible when they intend to prosecute. My only fear is that the cops will save up video evidence of small little crimes (say littering) which become bigger crimes when they add up (5th offense littering is 30 days in jail, or whatever). Then they have the power to basically put anyone they want in jail, because virtually none of us are perfect (we just think no one saw that candy wrapper we threw out the window).

              • > Information wants to be free.

                What has that got to do with the discussion at hand except that you like to say it? We are talking about massive amounts of information being captured in government and corporate databases. We are talking about the creation of electronic shadows of people that will be attached to their physical person as they're identified by innumerable cameras that have been installed in public places by a government that is out of control, one that is jailing people at a pace never before seen in all of human history. About 700,000 pot smokers are arrested every year, often losing their jobs and homes because of it.

                We have got to drop the consensual crime laws and respect the Constitution before we can trust the government with more toys. We're building technological systems supposedly to capture the next Timothy McVeigh, but once they're in place, it always turns out to be enough for bored cops to stand around and feed Cheech and Chong into the meat grinder and meet their arrest quota. Who stands up for these innocent people who are CURRENTLY being arbitrarily victimized? There is no accounting for the mistakes of the past and the present, and we're talking about mistakes that might be made with this technology in the future.
                • About 700,000 pot smokers are arrested every year, often losing their jobs and homes because of it.


                  That is not a national problem, it is a local one. The federal government only controls the distribution of pot (and arguably only then when it affects interstate commerce), not the private home consumption of it. Besides that, I challenge your statistics. 700,000 pot smokers may be arrested every year, but I highly doubt 700,000 people are arrested each year due to pot consumption.


                  We have got to drop the consensual crime laws and respect the Constitution before we can trust the government with more toys.


                  I feel that the number one problem with consensual crime laws is that they are not enforced evenly across the juridiction of the law. Once you get the president and congressmen in a situation where they have to obey the laws they write, instead of giving them to the police to use as an excuse to arrest people they don't like, the consensual crime laws will largely go away.


                  In any case, consensual crime laws generally take place in the privacy of ones home, not in public. Almost by definition once the action takes place in public it is no longer something which is between yourself and your own morality. So how exactly are these cameras going to affect consenual crime laws?

          • The FBI maintains a database containing millions of images of fingerprints. This database is used to match prints lifted off a crime scene with an individual. The concept is the same. A computer compares two digital images, and if enough similarity is present, identifies a match. This system has been in place for YEARS, and I haven't heard of any wrongful arrests arising from it.

            That's probably because fingerprinting rarely happens unless you are trying for security clearance or you are suspected of a crime for some other reason already. Thus, the subjects of the matching are pre screened and the vast majority of people never get compared at all. Things would likely look different if everybody got fingerprinted and run through the system.

            On a similar note, what if you happen to be walking down the street, and a cop spots you because you look remarkably similar to Joe Drugtrafficer on the FBI's most wanted list.

            It happens, but it's a matter of degree. I see a lot more cameras in a day than cops, and the camera can 'remember' many thousands of times more faces that I might resemble than a cop can. The number of mis-identification incidents WILL go up if this is implemented.

        • And if he resists... even if he used to be innocent, now he looking at some serious charges.

          Never, ever resist! Only a moron fights with the cops. They are there to Take You In. Once you are Taken In, you can get things Cleared Up. Trying to expedite this in the field by attacking the police never helps. If you are in the right, it will come out. You can't rush that process with violence.

          When was the last time you heard about a guy who got away from the cops by copping a big attitude, and yelling and being abusive? Never? Right, because it never happens that way. If you try it, you are apt to get a tune-up.

          When the cops pick you up, just cooperate. Swallow your pride for a bit. I know it sucks, but it has to be that way. What if cops were pushovers, who let loud, angry people go? Things would be a hell of a lot worse. "Gee, Sarge, he SAID he didn't do it, and he was in a hurry... so I cut him loose."

          You know how high schools teach kids about STDs and how to drive and all that? Part of that state-required class (well, it is state required in CA) should be Your Civil Rights and How To Deal With The Police. Those are both valuable things for people to know... most people will have a run-in with the law at some point, even if it's just a speeding ticket.

      • Ah, the classic "If you've done nothing wrong, you should have nothing to hide".

        The problem with this is who decides what's wrong. It's enough with one rotten egg in an organization to be able to severly misuse this technology, not to speak of it the whole governing body is a rotten egg! We have democracy, and such a fractioned way of government just to prevent abuse of power. The same should apply to the technology in the hands of those ruling. It shouldn't be all powerful or all-seeing for that one off chance that they go bad. You have to think one step ahead, and not just at how the present situation looks.

        • > the technology
          > in the hands of those ruling

          In America, there are NO RULERS. This is a Republic. We are a building that is one story tall. Government may be in the basement with the plumbing, but it is not supposed to be on the roof pretending it is better than everybody else.
          • In America, there are NO RULERS. This is a Republic. We are a building that is one story tall. Government may be in the basement with the plumbing, but it is not supposed to be on the roof pretending it is better than everybody else.

            Nice summary of how things are SUPPOSED to be. Unfortunatly, there are many in government who imagine themselves to be your master. In a business environment, such insubordinate underlings would be fired, but that doesn't happen. Perhaps they're no longer underlings?

      • Read the article to the end.

        If you've done nothing wrong, you should have nothing to hide, and applaud this system for making the streets safer for our children.

        Check out the last statement of the essay. Judging from your words, I think you'd make a perfect borg. All thoughts and actions shared.
      • If you've done nothing wrong, you should have nothing to hide, and applaud this system for making the streets safer for our children.

        Okay. I was with ya all the way, until you came to this sentence. My problem with part one: depends on the definition of "wrong". Say you've broken the DMCA (something I wouldn't mind doing myself, if I had the time to pull it off). Would it be appropriate for a camera outside of your grocery store to alert the authorites to your location? In essence, what I'm getting at is that this system has the potential for sending even the most minor crimal into complete seclusion.

        My problem with part 2: this is just trying to pull at some emotional string. What is it in particular about this kind of system that makes the streets safer for children? Doesn't it claim to make the streets safer for everyone? Doesn't that logically seem like a better type of system? Yet for some reason you've limited it down to a subset of the population with the hope of achieving a bigger impact. Bah. Casts a great big shadow of sillyness on your whole argument (at least in my mind).
        • This isn't an argument about the DMCA, so I'll leave that part out. Hopefully the courts will do the right thing and deem it unconstitutional, but if you have broken a law, be it the DMCA or any other law, and you are in a public place, then you are running the risk of being identified. Computer imaging doesn't change this, it's been happening for hundereds of years. That's why we have wanted posters in the post office. To encourage citizens to make identifications of known criminals in their area.

          The Constitution protects you from unreasonable search and seisure. This means that DEA officers cannot kick in your door and ransack your apartment without having evidence of your wrongdoing. This means that the FBI cannot tap your phone or Internet connection without sufficient evidence against you.

          The Constitution does NOT guarantee you the right to remain completely anonymous in a public place. If you don't want your face to be seen in public for whatever reason, don't go out in public. It's as simple as that.

          You don't have kids, do you?
          • The Constitution protects you from unreasonable search and seisure. This means that DEA officers cannot kick in your door and ransack your apartment without having evidence of your wrongdoing. This means that the FBI cannot tap your phone or Internet connection without sufficient evidence against

            That is what the government told you in school, but that doesn't mean it is true.

            So-called "no-knock warrants" are commonplace, and about once a year in every major city in America, a unit of militarized police quite famously knock down the wrong door and obliterate an entire innocent family by mistake. More than 80% of seized property comes from people who weren't even charged, never mind convicted. How do your kids feel about that? Safe?

            Did you know the US prison population doubled under President Clinton? I hope your sons or daughters are never locked up for 10 years with a rapist because they attend a rave or find that a little pot takes the edge off a stressful day better than alcohol. Because the US prison population is also 25-40% infected with AIDS, the repeated gang rapings and torture that your son or daughter suffers will quite likely turn into a death sentence. THIS IS HAPPENING TODAY TO A MILLION AMERICANS RIGHT NOW. All with the rationale of protecting children. In the eyes of the US "justice" system, it is better to be murderer than a crack user. Murderers do half as much prison time, and are individually sentenced by judges and juries with regard for the circumstances of the case; crack users do mandatory minimum sentences imposed by politicians and functionaries that have brought judges to tears when they impose them. Handing out 20 years to college kids for partying without political connections is tough stuff. Standing around debating how we can make the cops more powerful in this environment is really misguided.

            Personally, I don't trust POWER WHORES to do what's right for society at large, and certainly don't trust them to do what's right for kids. Kids are only kids for 17 years, but they can be slaves forever. To someone who is 30 or 40 right now, face recognition cameras in public places are controversial; but to a 16 year old kid who has always been watched constantly wherever he goes, face recognition in public places for the rest of his life has got to be a terrible burden. There will be no adventure, only servitude and suffering and puritanism and consumerism. All those old SF movies and books that foretold a dehumanizing future now look like documentaries.

            When are we going to demand that our government respects the Constitution at least? After that, they can have all the toys they want. With great power comes great responsibility. Technology is advancing at a very fast pace, and politicians are not.

        • In essence, what I'm getting at is that this system has the potential for sending even the most minor crimal into complete seclusion.

          Yes, it would. But that doesn't show the flaw in the camera system, but rather the legal system. In the US today (pardon my bias), there are laws against so many things that it's impossible for anybody to keep track of them. As a result, we are all minor criminals in some way. (Speeding, jaywalking, failure to yield, etc etc) It is these laws which give law enforcement the power to selectively enforce their power as they see fit. When you can be stopped for having a 'tail light out,' it is the cop who is singling you out. The camera system just gives the cop another thing to look at to see if you're 'suspicious.' If you are, but they don't want to stop you. If you are, and they do want to stop you, they can.

          At the same time, however, we must accept that the power of the police is necessary. Somebody has to be responsible for dealing with the person who's breaking into your house, or who stole my car last month (grr). There has to be a presence to keep order in society or else we would tear ourselves apart. That power must be carefully kept in check, don't get me wrong, but it must be there.
      • Re:As computer geeks (Score:2, Interesting)

        by arakis (315989)
        I'm not really sure how you can believe knowing what everyone does in public at all times really makes the streets safer. All I can see is that is passes a greater amount of control into a smaller set of hands than ever before. If history is any indication of what will happen once too much control is concentrated too heavily I don't see happy things is store for us unless you like pain and suffering.

        The best tool that the police/law enforcement could ever have in their fight against crime is the trust and support of the people at large. Using technology to track our every move in public is not the solid foundation of trust and will not serve to further their interests. It must also be remembered that all non-contiguous private space is sparated by either other's private space or public space. Basically this means that all your movements could be tracked between occupying personal private spaces under your standard. Barring some type of teleport device you would have no choice but to be tracked and monitored.

        Another way to look at it is this: how would you feel if you started seeing someone romantically only to find out that they were having you watched. The surveilence was only performed when you were in public spaces or *cooperative* private spaces such as your work or a members-only gym. The results of this surveilance is that they know every where you went and all that you did/said in these places even all the names and total monitored histories of everyone you talked to. Now. Do you still have nothing to hide, even though you are a good person and do nothing wrong?

        If you think that sounds bad now imagine instead of a romance it is a total stranger. We have a word for that in our newspapers, it is called stalking. Predators stalk prey, even if they fail to attack and kill. With a ubiquitous predator looking over my shoulder I feel far from safe, especially when it is one fly-swat away from confusing me with Harry Tuttle.
    • earlobes and chin as someone will get you taken down in a public place..... well, I wouldn't want it to happen to me.


      Imagine instead that the software recognizes a known terrorist illegally in the country at some event. Imagine that the software is correct this time, and allows the police to apprehend the terrorist before he would have set off a bomb that would have killed a hundred people -- including your daughter. Hmm, then the decision probably isn't so easy.

      The reality of deployment of these systems will be somewhere inbetween the worst case and best case scenarios. Where the "normal" case is will determine the systems' usefulness, but we won't determine that here on /. .
      • The reality of deployment of these systems will be somewhere inbetween the worst case and best case scenarios. Where the "normal" case is will determine the systems' usefulness, but we won't determine that here on /. .

        The "normal" case will be that you will either conform to the Puritan vision of the world or you will be weeded out, harrassed, arrested, lose your job, lose your home, go to prison 500 miles from your family and friends, be raped, be tortured, contract AIDS, and die a miserable and lonely person. Same as it is now, only with face recognition cameras making the whole process a bit easier for law enforcement professionals. Pretty damned unhappy prospect.

      • Imagine instead that the software recognizes a known terrorist illegally in the country at some event.

        Only if you imagine your daughter getting arrested twice a month for the rest of her life because she resembles a wanted criminal. She'll get to spend plenty of time locked up in a holding cell with a class of people she would never had the 'opportunity' to meet otherwise. She will get to explain to her boss why she was arrested during an important lunch meeting with a prospective client.

        Since mistaken identity encounters where police believe the suspect to be dangerous are nearly always traumatic, and sometimes fatal, I suppose she will eventually become a shut-in or resident of the psych ward.

        Sound good?

  • by CokeBear (16811) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @09:09AM (#2267079) Journal
    These devices scan your face to determine bone structure, so facial hair, glasses, or anything else on the surface wont make a difference. The secret to defeating facial recognition systems is to either break your jaw and have it reset in a different position (not recommended) or to put things in your mouth (fill your cheeks and lips) that alter the structure of your face.
    • Far easier to put on glasses and make sure the lenses are partially mirrored on the outside. Just as effective, far less painful and doesn't stop you doing things like talking and eating...
    • wear a mask or a face covering when your outside? Granted it's a little extreme, but I don't think it's against the law...
      • Or sure, you won't look suspicious wearing a Superman mask or covering your face the entire time you're talking to a salesperson. Seriously, if you came into my bank wearing a mask of any kind, I'm hitting the panic button before you can say anything.
  • Ager's core assumption is that liberty is a vital attribute of the individual. Even John Stuart Mill did not go so far. JSM was willing to concede the right of the government to take preventative measures, especially in a society so overcome with crime that entire neighbourhoods resemble a different, much more dangerous nation than the rest of the city they are in.

    If you relax for a moment, the belief that individual liberty is a universal right -- an assumption that has by no means been proven fait accompli, you will see that these camera's provide an a priori benefit to society. Criminals cannot wander free in our streets and malls with these around.

    Let's stop and think about the children for a second. I believe that if we as a free society were to register all known pedophiles in a national database with pictures, this system could ipso facto provide massive benefits for the endangered young of our nation.

    I can not in good faith oppose pro bono publico a system which almost guarantees safety for my children. I do not trust the mettle of anyone who does not agree with this.
    • How the hell did the parent deserve "troll"? He expresses a valid argument, though not one I particularly agree with. Way to have your heads up your asses, moderators.
    • I'm sick and tired of pedophagia being used as the excuse for every oppressive measure adults use on each other.

      Face it, statistically, pedophiles are a small and far less dangerous segment of the community that used car salesmen who sell defective Detroit Iron to mentally defective sixteen year olds (who then go to a bar to celebrate their rite of passage into the adult community by drinking until they hurl and then weave their way home.)

      YOU care about your kids. Great! YOU watch over them and trust that they will have enough sense to scream and kick. (You have taught them to do that or did you abrogate that responsability too?)

      I care about your kids the same as you care about mine. Neither of us really gives a rat's-ass. Its an SEP (Somebody Else's Problem.) (That's why terrorists are never effective. If you can walk away you DO or you died and aren't terrorized anymore.)

      By the way "pro bono publico" is Latin for "for the greater good" (implying 'not for profit.') You'd do a better job of that by getting the drunks off the street.

      As for the hookers, pimps, dealers, thieves, purse-snatchers and lawyers. we'd be better off without them too.
      • As for the hookers, pimps, dealers, thieves, purse-snatchers and lawyers. we'd be better off without them too

        Luckily, the Fourth Reich has face recognition technology to identify and detain these undesirables that far exceeds the simple armbands and cattle cars of the Third Reich. Unfortunately, EVERYBODY IN AMERICA is a hooker, pimp, dealer, thief, purse-snatcher and/or lawyer. When we have killed or damaged enough of our brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, daughters and sons to either realize this or cripple society completely (whichever comes first), we may decide to stop just reading the Constitution and start keeping it.

        Personally, I think it's better to leave the peaceful and honest people alone (hookers, pimps, dealers), and arrest the dishonest bullies (thieves, purse-snatchers, lawyers). A crime without a victim is just a blank check for the government. They can write anybody in as the accused. Combined with wide-scale face recognition systems, they can even find the guy who fits their political needs the best. "It's an election year ... find me a black homosexual pot smoker with a white HIV-positive boyfriend and I'll preside over his trial and keep my Judgeship ... make sure he's ugly, too, and get him in here right away."

  • Sadly, the same biometric mechaisms which will make transactions over the internet completely secure will also make it impossible for people to hide outside of their own homes (and many governments will try to put them inside as well.)

    Since surveillance cameras are cheap, can be unobtrusive, (can you tell me where the cameras are around you?) always there and always on, the powers that be will use them to implement surveilance that's just as pervasive.

    Since these cameras will be installed in community owned spaces surveying community owned property, you'll have absolutely no say in the matter.

    In fact, the excuses will be that the surveilance is mandated and demanded by a responsable community.

    I hear Ted Kazinski's cabin is for sale.
    • Since surveillance cameras are cheap, can be unobtrusive, (can you tell me where the cameras are around you?)

      Funny that you should ask. Actually, I can tell you where the cameras are in my area. I've been very observant about the cameras watching me at Subway, in the gas station, at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club, etc. I'm very disturbed by the trend, not only to put cameras everywhere but also by the fact that I seem to be the only one around here who cares! (BTW I live in a rapidly-expanding town just south of Memphis.)

      Since these cameras will be installed in community owned spaces surveying community owned property, you'll have absolutely no say in the matter.
      Since these areas are community owned, I should have a say in the matter. After all, I am a part of the community.

  • Efficent Terror (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheNarrator (200498) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @09:15AM (#2267100)
    Totalitarianism in this century is going to be a lot easier because the government won't have to employ tons of informants and security service personell. They can just use face recognition to watch everybody and find out who the dangerous people are or who the leaders of insurgencies are and then locate them and eliminate them efficiently without disrupting the daily lives of everybody else. Running a good security service was possible in low tech times but was a tremendous economic drain on any totalitarian country and required executing a lot of uneccessary people just to keep people on their toes.

    We are seeing this put into practice, for better or for worse, in Israel. Let's ignore completely who's right and who's wrong in the whole thing (I don't want to get off topic). The Palestinans are still low tech and have to rely on generalized terror of the old inefficent kind that brings a lot more condemnation on them then they would like because it often kills people who are not involved in the conflict per se. The Israelis on the other hand have very good intelligence, possibly even face recognition that lets them locate leaders of insurgency groups and meticulously pick them off.

    So in the future the world will enter an era of permanent stablity, for worse no doubt, because if you get out of line you can be effciently eliminated.
    The only solution I can see to this is to put this kind of technology into the hands of civilians. Put together a big network of civilian owned face recognition systems and feed into them the faces of politicians and then watch what they do.
  • by prisoner (133137) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @09:15AM (#2267103)
    things are really starting to get tight. All of these stories about traffic cameras, facial recognition and monitoring cameras just go together too well. It seems like you can believe in one of two things:

    1. This gradually closing surveillance net that will be able to track you anytime you leave your house is a result of the unwitting acts of many legislatures/public officials which result in "skynet". or

    2. This really is a "boil the frog" approach by government to keeping tabs on everything. IOW, they really *are* out to get you.

    I think that it's probably the first but the end result is the same. More people need to make their voices heard on this type of stuff. We here in America, in general, seem to depend on the media to out this kind of stuff but we should not be so lackidasical (sp?) about it. This really is important. Oh, btw, the "traffic management" cameras are just stupid. A highway isn't like a train where you can divert trains onto extra tracks. There just aren't any extra 6-lane highways laying around. Sure, you might "divert" traffic from the highway to surrounding streets but what do you think will happen when 6 lanes of traffic gets "diverted" to a 2 or 4 land suburban avenue.......
    • I agree completely.

      We need to start fighting for our rights again. I really believe that people don't have any drive to be free anymore. The number of protests have dwindled and most people find them to be an annoyance.

      I am quite afraid of who is watching. I don't like to give out my name to Radio Shack, but the god damn government already has it. It's not Radio Shack I need to be worried about!

      Yeah, in PA they have "This is a future VMS site" and what they are going to do is track traffic patterns, right. "We will not track speeders, or other traffic violators". Yeah, sure, not now, you just want us to get used to the fact that they are there. It takes several years to plan, build, clean up from major highway construction, and by that time it is already more congested than the new highway can handle. So what's the point?

      Why aren't more people out there voicing their opinion? I am quite vocal about these practices and I will continue to be. If I had the finances I would be driving all over the fucking country to get my face out and show them that I am against this sort of shit (they probably already know).

      This country was built on the idea that centralized control was not desired. Now they want to do just that.

      FUCK THEM. I am "Free American" not a prisoner in my own country. If you really think that all this is ok, fine, but I don't.

      Please help to do something about it.
      • I am quite afraid of who is watching. I don't like to give out my name to Radio Shack, but the god damn government already has it. It's not Radio Shack I need to be worried about!

        No, you don'tneed to be that worried about Radio Shack. The worst thing they do with that information is use it to track what you buy at Radio Shack and send customized flyers to your house announcing sales. I give them my info, despite my usual privacy stance, because I rather like the flyers and I know that they don't sell their mailing lists. (Aside from the fact that I've worked there before to earn extra cash for the holidays, I do little tricks like spell my name or address different ways to see where mailing list information comes from. It's quite amusing to find out who sells your information.)

        Yeah, in PA they have "This is a future VMS site" and what they are going to do is track traffic patterns, right. "We will not track speeders, or other traffic violators".

        Here in the Detroit metro area, we were among the first in the country to get traffic cameras on the freeways. So far they have only used them to analyze traffic patterns. "So far" being the operative words in that sentence. :) You can see what these cameras can see every morning on the local news, and these particular cameras are not high-resolution enough to read license plates. The ones I'm concerned with are the ones mounted at intersections of surface streets. Considering the local news doesn't use them in their traffic reports, I'd have says these probably are and they don't want anyone to know that. :)

  • When talking to some of my friends about privacy issues, even some of the computer geeks (I mean this in a good way) to do not have too many concerns about privacy and that kind of stuff, like they don't expect to have any. Sounds like one of those things where everyone will only miss it when it's gone.
  • One possible way to defeat these systems is to have everyone wear halloween masks in areas with these cameras. It's tough to figure out who is who if we all look like Richard Nixon. Perhaps citizens in areas with these systems can organize a protest by walking around these areas with masks on. If someone will pay for airfare to Tampa plus hotel accomidations, I'll make some time to come down there and take part in such a protest.
  • I thought the fascists running the CIA and the FBI and the NSA and the DEA had a long term plan to tatoo barcodes on everybody's forehead they could get away with.

    B.
    • Well, that's step two of the process. First you use massive facial recognition in public places to arrest everyone a few times per year due to false positives, and maybe rough them up a bit. Then you offer people the possibility of tatooing a barcode on the forehead (or, more likely a id chip implant or something), which could actually be accurately read, saving them from the mistaken identity problem and subsequent beatings.
  • trying to stop a piece of software is ridiculous. (DMCA?) Its inevitable that information will become easier to collect. Society is becoming more transparent and that can be a good thing-

    read some David Brin [lycos.com]
    Salon also had this [salon.com] to say
    • One-sided privacy is a problem, as is one-sided transparency.

      The point Brin made was to demand and expect reciprocal transparency. If someone wants to know something about you, require that you get to know it about them. For instance, if government officials want to surveil you, require that you get to surveil them.
  • Great (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Evil MarNuke (209527) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @09:36AM (#2267162) Homepage
    You know in all of my days dealing with all kind of people, the people I fear the most is law enforcement.

    Sure, you can say "you should have nothing to fear if you aren't doing anything wrong." but that is the problem. Sometime you have to fear when you haven't done anything wrong. In some places you will be hounded becuase you're a white man in the black part of town. Other time, you're get pulled over becuase you drive a red car. Then you get a gun pulled on you and your life treated becuase some pig "don't like your kind."

    It's like i was saying the other day to a friend "you have nothing to fear but cops." Think about it, when someone robs you, you have to right to fight back. If you fight back to a cop, they can kill you. Oh sure, it not all that bad, until you had a gun pointed to you by the protector of the law knowing his buddy would go right long with the story that you resisted assest. And you might make news, and you know what? People are going to say "yeah he should've been shot." Then media pumps the crime like every person walking around is a rapist, like everybudy is just waiting to rob you blind, or jack you when ever they get a chance.

    I know there is crime, and I think it's bad, but when the police turns to law abidders and make crimes, that is where I draw the line.

  • by Bocaj (84920) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @09:36AM (#2267164) Homepage
    A security guard recognises a criminal from a mug shot on one of his cameras. He might be right, or mistaken. He'll have to check to be sure.

    A piece of software flags a person as a criminal. It might be right or mistaken. It will have to let the security guard check it out to be sure.

    The only difference is now one guard can handle more cameras better. The same with finger print software. You can check more fingerprints faster. The crime labs have used those for years. A human eye must still be the ultimate authority, the computer narrows the field a bit.

    -Bocaj
    • Point taken.

      However, there is now a record of who was where, and when. The more systems added, the more records.

      Right now, with just a social security number (in the US), you can get a complete job and credit history, medical records, criminal background, home address, phone number, etc. Some of these things might be in a gray area of the law, but they are still quite easy to find. If an individual can find them, you can be sure the government can, too.

      So add these systems everywhere, link those in with DMV databases with pictures, and now your face will instantly pull up all available information on you. You walk into a store, and they know what you are likely there to buy, what you can afford, your payment history on loans, and everything else about you. The technology is already there to do all of this, as most people that read /. are well aware. This just speeds up the road to totalitarianism.
      • Totalitarianism [dictionary.com] - "Of, relating to, being, or imposing a form of government in which the political authority exercises absolute and centralized control over all aspects of life, the individual is subordinated to the state, and opposing political and cultural expression is suppressed."


        What about what you described helps a central authority exercise control over your life? If anything it helps them to exercise less control over your life, because if they want to find out who you are they don't have to stop you and check ID or anything.


        Information wants to be free. Laws which attempt to stop the spread of information will fail. You have to come up with a way to protect against abuses without stopping the spread of information, usually by adding more information. You haven't stated any of your potential problems with these systems, so I'll leave alone the better solutions to the problems which don't involve stopping information.


        Technology needs to be accepted. Just as the RIAA needs to accept that napsteresque systems will never be stopped no matter how many laws they passed, U.S. citizens need to accept that police surveilance is not going to stop no matter how many laws they pass. Sure, you can effectively stop the police from using illegal obtained information as evidence in court, but you can't take the information away. We need to reach a comprimise in both situations which addresses the fact that information is naturally free.


        • Information is power. The more information the government has about people, the more power they will have. Be it blackmail or some other form of control, they already know too much, and it will only get worse. I don't like it, but I do accept it.

          But we don't need to let the government help out the process, either. First step - social security numbers. Most people give them away whenever they are asked. Even video store applications commonly as for social security numbers. People blindly use that number as a form of identification. If they want to be that stupid, let them. But why are we paying for it?

          I can not think of one reason I need a social security number, or should be given one. Yes, I have one, because my parents applied for one, and I can't work without one. But why? The promise is that one day, I will get old, and the government will give me money to retire. First off, that will never happen. I will never see a dime of what I give them. Not unless the US goes completely into socialism. Second, I don't want to participate. I am happy to take care of my own retirement. If I get disabled and can't work, the goverment doesn't need to pay me. There is not one valid reason that I need to be identified by a number.

          So we finance this government tracking system every day, and you say that we aren't heading towards totalitarianism? We help the government track us, and we help companies track us. As I said earlier, information is power, and we keep adding to that information. Computing power is now at the point where it is trivial to track just about everything. Cameras in public will just add to this whole mess.

          Just for you liberals out there - no, I don't believe in any form of government support, be it welfare, food stamps, retirement. I do put my money where my mouth is - I lived at far below the poverty level when I was stricken with a serious illness. I'm thinking of selling a ramen noodle cookbook. You can do some amazing things with them.

          • Information is power. ... I don't like it, but I do accept it.

            I agree with you here. Information is power, and power can and will be used against people. But I feel that people have to accept that the government is going to get that information no matter what. Taking that information away from the government, like total nuclear disarmament, is a positive goal, but the reality of the situation is that neither are going to happen at this stage. So we have to work from that assumption and try to protect against accidental or malicious actions which abuse that power.

            First step - social security numbers. ... People blindly use that number as a form of identification. If they want to be that stupid, let them. But why are we paying for it?

            I'm not sure what you're referring to about us paying for it, unless you mean the ID cards, which I agree are a waste of money. Other than that though, the existance of SSNs lowers government costs, not raises.

            I also take a bit of personally offense at the "stupid" remark. I for one have no problem giving away my social security number to anyone who needs to know who I am. I try not to give it away when I am subscribing to a service, because I want the ability to withhold payment in case of problems and force them to take me to court to get the money rather than leaving a mark on my credit report, but in cases where this isn't reasonable I don't even bother pushing the issue. Other than that, if someone has my name and address (or some other unique key) they might as well have my social security number, so I have no problems giving it to them. (Again I make an exception for services. My long distance company, cable company, electric and gas company, none of them have my SSN).

            There is not one valid reason that I need to be identified by a number.

            If you throw out the social security system, perhaps. I'll agree with you that such a forced savings account is rediculous. But as long as you have social security, there needs to be an account number. It may be hidden, it may be bits representing your full name, birthdate and time, hospital, and pointer to the record of your doctor, but there has to be a key of some sort. I don't see any reason not to make it a number.

            So we finance this government tracking system every day, and you say that we aren't heading towards totalitarianism?

            These tracking systems lower the costs of the government, not raise them. We have given the government the mandate to enforce the laws. We have given the people the right to the privacy in their homes, but not in public. We have also given the people the right to due process. Under these and other constraints which I'm probably forgetting I believe the government needs to perform that enforcement in whatever way is most efficient without infringing on the rights of the people. I don't think the right to be anonymous in public is one of those rights.

            Computing power is now at the point where it is trivial to track just about everything. Cameras in public will just add to this whole mess.

            The fact that the computing power is there makes me assume that it is being used. Perhaps I'm just paranoid. I'd much rather have an openly admitted to system of monitoring everyone than to have the covert systems of monitoring only those whom the government wishes to target.

            I was the owner of a certain free homepage site which I registered under my real name and address, a throwaway email (registered under fake information), and an efax telephone number (also registered under fake information). Someone used that homepage site to create a homepage and was alledgedly sending harassing mail through the USPS. By this time I had moved to another state and hadn't updated my address. Well guess what, I was still contacted by phone by a sheriff looking for information who said he got the information from the FBI who had traced me through my old license to my new license and then got my new phone number and address. Don't think for a second that the government needs a social security number to find you. They found me given only a domain name.

            Maybe I'm just being selfish. If the government knows everything about me, I guess I want them to know everything about you, too. Well, since you're responding to a post of mine on slashdot, I'm sure they do :).

            • It's very late, so I'll keep this one short.

              But as long as you have social security, there needs to be an account number.

              No disagreement there. I just object to the existence of the system in the first place, and challenge anyone to find Constitutional grounds for such a system.

              Perhaps I'm just paranoid. I'd much rather have an openly admitted to system of monitoring everyone than to have the covert systems of monitoring only those whom the government wishes to target.

              No, I'm with you on that one. Ideally, no monitoring, but I think we all know it is happening, and will continue to happen. I just don't like giving another inch to the government on anything. They just take miles, and miles, and miles...

              Well, since you're responding to a post of mine on slashdot, I'm sure they do :).

              Probably. Not suprised, but still bothered.

        • Technology needs to be accepted. Just as the RIAA needs to accept that napsteresque systems will never be stopped no matter how many laws they passed, ...



          Unless, of course, some sort of technology allows them to know what CDs you bought, even if you paid cash. Something like...face recognition. Naturally, the next step beyond face recognition will be voice recognition. How is it you were listening to 'one hit wonder' on the bus last week? We KNOW you never bought it!



          That example may be a bit far fetched, but represents a whole class of problems that can creep in once face recognition is widely accepted and deployed. I'll bet phone tapping and the DMCA would have seemed far fetched in the 1770's.


    • You miss the part where the security guard decides that the computer is always right, and the suspect does look somewhat like the criminal, and in any case wether the computer got the ID right or wrong it isnt the security guards problem since it's not his fault, or on his conscience, if someone innocent is misidentified.

      It isnt even close to the same thing as with finger print software. Finger prints are several orders of magnitude more reliable than a facial ID. And fingerprints get run on suspects, not on every single person in an area every minute every day of the year. Imagine instead that you have 50 genetically identical twins, of which several were criminals, and the government wanted to put up fingerprint ID terminals all over the place where you would be required to ID yourself. You'd better get used to getting detained all the time...
    • by arakis (315989)
      There is a logical departure in the comparison of using a finger print database in a crime lab as opposed to using a survielence system to identify faces. The essential thing that is needed to make the difference is a matter of context and to understand the difference between man and machine.

      In the case of the fingerprints the police are dealing with evidence of a crime or some other police matter that they are trying to solve (e.g. a murder where the ciminal had already left the scene or a kidnapping.) Fingerprints are carefully taken from the scene and analyzed to determine facts that may lead to solving the case. This is a reactive measure in response to crime.

      In the case of facial recognition systems evidence is being gathered for a crime that hasn't yet been comitted. Instead of working towards solving a case the information is being used to model an everyday situation where possibly no crimes are ever comitted.

      A human is not a machine and a machine is not a human, they are two mutually exclusive wholes though they may share idosyncratic similarities. Human security gaurds working with cameras would never go to the trouble of even noticing every person who is in the store. Instead the human mind is drawn towards cues that focus the attention where it is needed so that a task (spotting criminals or criminal activity) can be performed. These cues can come from a wide varitey of sources; from the dream leaving their mind when they awoke in the morning to the past experience of working the job and having trained for years. The analog nature of these cues and how they play together is far from perfect, but the integral and wholistic foundation they rest on gives them a chance of nearing perfection.

      The machine is decidedly different, as is its nature being merely a tool that extends human motive. No distinction is made between criminal activity and normal activity at any level in the system since it has to at least begin scanning every person as per its function. There is not a cue in the machine instead that is replaced with an event. The main difference being that an event exists unto itself and does not contain anything more than the sum of its parts. A good example of the difference between and event and a cue would be the event of someone blowing into your ear. As an event it is a simple set of actions, but as a cue to a human it represents a infinite set of integral properties.

      The digital nature of the machine creates a vast departure from perfection. Perfection isn't even an issue when all you have is black and white since no integral whole can ever be aquired in such a harsh dialectic system.

      So the end result, the difference is that we change from attempting to spot criminals and criminal activity in a system that can achieve near perfection to a system that merely identifies everyone and turns everyone into a suspect. This is contrary to humanity since our entire existence must be based on trust. Tools are only as good as those who use them, but humans strive for perfection out of instinct independent of their environment. It may seem that some individuals aren't perfect, but resemblance isn't the point. The fact that we take this infinte energy source of reality and derive more than 1's and 0's is.

      To quote the movie Metroplois:

      "Without the heart there can be no understanding between the hand and the mind"

      Technology applied unabated crushes the heart. I hope that we can all come together and apply these new tools properly so that I may offer up a better tomorrow for my children.
    • The only difference is now one guard can handle more cameras better.

      Your example is inoffensive. The fear is the next step.

      What happens when the policeman in the next building you visit is alerted that your mean speed between buildings was 72.5 MPH, a clear violation of the local speed limits?

      Cameras as an aid to law enforcement aren't the real problem... it's the death of all privacy that this heralds.

      This bit with the cameras, and to some extent the digital rights management crap, is part of a huge transition for human society. Live it up, kids; no civilization has been through this experience yet. This is genuinely NEW stuff our society is growing into. Technology is making possible the total death of privacy, *and* societal trends are criminalizing more of us in parallel with that. It's damn spooky if you think about it. It's also car-wreck interesting.

    • The only difference is now one guard can handle more cameras better.



      The problem is that law enforcement has this habit of thinking technology is infallable, no matter how many times it is proven otherwise. This situation is not helped by vendors who will all make wild claims based on perfect lab conditions.



      Consider radar for an example. A great many officers who use it have no idea how it works or how it can fail. They actually believe that if radar says you're speeding, you are. Never mind the faster moving 18 wheeler one lane over, or the doughnut jelly on the tuning fork used to calibrate the unit.



      I suspect that the flaws in the system will be revealed to the general population only after many thousands of law abiding citizens get treated as armed and extremely dangerous (perhaps shot) because of similar appearance.

  • countermeasures (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xah (448501)
    This face recognition scare can be put to rest if Madison Avenue just decides that the newest fashion trend will be masks. Yes, masks. We will all wear masquerade garb. It will be facial encryption.

    Another alternative would be to figure out how to send an electronic signal of someone else's bone structure into the camera eye of the facial recognition device, perhaps with the use of an altered laser pen-like device.

    Admittedly, this is all fantasy and science fiction. But I don't think speculation hurts us at this point.

  • ... but you can't stop shit from coming out of it.

    The author of the article is probably right that it is not pertinent for government accelerate the trend towards automatic recognition at this point, but the just the topic betrays a dangerous fallacy in his reasoning. If it is possible to use your face to identify you (and it is, of course, we evolved that way) then your face is, for all intents and purposes, a human barcode. You can throw a fit and argue all you like about how horrible that is, but by denying the simple inevitable truth you will just be making your situation worse.

    Your ass is a shit hole, and your face is a bar code. Get over it, and start from there. The right thing to do when technology starts infringing on our integrity and liberty is not to fight technology, because that is futile and stupid, but to develop technology that evens the scale, or to compensate by other means.

    In this case there is no need to develope new technology, masks have been around for some time. If you are not willing to pay the price of inconvience of wearing masks in public, then you do not deserve your freedom. The true infringement on liberty is, of course, when somebody tells you that you cannot use a mask (just like Carnivore is not an issue, while bans against encryption are crimes against humanity).

    As for compensating, the best way to compensate against a loss of privacy is to decrease the amount of power over you that you grant to others. As governments are able to track us better, we need to make sure that the amount of power we grant to them decreases accordingly.
  • ...To advance the control of public opinion and to research and expand the understanding of how to manipulate the human psyche, individually and collectively. Today this agenda includes the microchipping of people and their permanent connection to a global computer.

    This is a line from this site [converge.org.nz] here, and a quote from a book by a certain David Icke. I was pretty sure the bit about microchipping was pretty far-fetched.
    I'm not so sure now, at least conceptually speaking. Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. The desired end it would seem, can be achieved by tracking individual's movements coupled with thought manipulation through popular media.
  • by dragons_flight (515217) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @10:37AM (#2267404) Homepage
    Is anyone else struck by the similarity in argumentation for creating DMCA and that for limiting face recognition?

    Parts of DMCA were written because those with the power to do so believed people couldn't be trusted with technology. In that case the technology to break copyrights and hence illegally spread copyrighted material.

    Now we are sitting back and use the same arguments ourselves that we can't trust the people in charge to make reasonable use of facial recognition technology, or to limit the system in response to privacy and rights concerns.

    Obviously both scenarios bring up rights issues which differ significantly, but the arguments for DMCA and against facial recognition rarely focus on these. As you might notice 5 of Arge's 7 main points against facial recognition rest on the potential for abuse or considerable privacy invasion (linking such systems to information about average people).

    Perhaps this is the nature of society and we really can't trust enough people to be responsible when it comes to the oppurtunities new technology gives us. Frankly though if that's true, it says something sad about the state of the world we've made for ourselves.

    Personally I feel that both DMCA and facial recognition software benefit legitimate concerns and can serve a useful purpose. If properly legislated in an enforcable way then it should be possible to strike a balance between the varying concerns. That's not to say that DMCA as currently constructed couldn't use revision or that facial recognition should grow unchecked.

    Ultimately, if we are going to make arguments, then we need to be consistent. Either we accept or reject the argument that people will abuse new technologies on a wide scale. From there we decide how the issue plays out with respect to human rights concerns. Beware of people that will dismiss your concerns in one setting and then champion them in another setting. (For the record I don't know if Ager does this since I can't recall hearing arguments from him about DMCA, but I know some organizations certainly have put forth contradictory arguments when it serves their purpose.)
    • Now we are sitting back and use the same arguments ourselves that we can't trust the people in charge to make reasonable use of facial recognition technology, or to limit the system in
      response to privacy and rights concerns.



      Being against DMCA and for limiting face recognition are both about LIMITING control. You see, I want to limit the control a copyright holder has over how I use what I purchased, and I want to limit the potential for government and corporations to extend their control over my life.



      There's also the fact that face recognition legislation is a one way street. Once it is in place, if congress suddenly decides it should be used to track down dissidents and control them, it will be nearly impossable to demand a return to limited use (since such a demand would make you a dissident).



  • Oh no (Score:2, Funny)

    by WildBeast (189336)
    I won't be able to pick my nose or scratch my butt knowing that a camera is watching me. I don't want to be walking with an itchy butt all day.

  • because her kids would look at the underwear section. Now we are flooded with all types of much more graphic imagery from numerous sources. It's the onward march of technology, and we have to take the good with the bad.

    I find it interesting that so many people here on Slashdot are opposed to the restriction of technology that may be used for fraudulent purposes, such as copying DVD's or bypassing software security features, but seem to have no problem pushing for restrictions on other technology that may be used for such sinister purposes as "strangers calling you by name" or "shops pulling up your credit report when you walk in."

    This is the Age of Information. The shape of your face is just another piece of information. If we need restrictions, we should restrict uses rather than capabilities.

    Read that again: We should restrict uses rather than capabilities. Try thinking about that concept in different contexts that are important to you: facial recognition, copyright protection, encryption, decryption. Does it mean the same thing in each context, or do you change your opinion based on whether the technology benefits YOU?

    I have to close with this gem from the essay: "For example, the press cannot publish pictures of
    most people in personally sensitive situations that have no legitimate news value." What?! And this guy is worried about Big Brother?
  • Wider applications (Score:3, Insightful)

    by presearch (214913) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @11:16AM (#2267580)
    C'mon you geeks... Think past the base application.

    There's a lot more that the system could do than
    just perform spot identification. Say you are
    walking down the street with another "face" on
    the list, now -you- get the bit set that you are
    associating with known criminals, even if that's
    not known to you. Now, that you are on the list,
    anybody that you're seen with is a possible
    associate.

    The system can also be used to watch a certain
    place and track who goes there. Go to a pr0n shop
    that sells materials that border on pedophilia,
    data mine that against your M$ passport account
    that shows your net activity and that you've
    got a 10 year old that also uses the machine.
    Guiliy by triangulation.

    I'm sure your employer would want to know that
    you head to the corner bar every day after
    work and stay for 2.3 hours.
    After all, they have the right to protect their
    profits by eliminating those with potential
    "problems".

    Data mining against cameras watching a poling
    place on election day, correlating against the
    sequence of votes cast brings up all kinds of
    intriguing possibilities for those eager to
    manipulate the process and influence future
    outcomes.

    As the software gets more sophisticated, it
    could not only track you but also look at how
    your image varies from your template. Eyes seem
    a little red? Gait is a little unsteady?
    Better set that bit and flag them for a closer
    look.

    Say you are a congressman and one day your
    girlfriend comes up missing...uh, forget that.

    This shit is as dangerous as it is inevitable.
    --

  • I have a relative who has the same name as a criminal's alias. The criminal does not have any other identification similar to that of my relative. But whenver my relative gets stopped by an officer (typically randomly), he typically is held for several hours if not days before they realize they have the wrong man. So far, this has happened two or three times.

    Now my relative went to a police station to see if there was a way to warn police stations in the area that that someone else had the same name as the criminal. He was told there was not. While face recognition systems hopefully will have a lower error rate than the odds your name will match a criminal's, you better hope you don't look like one.

  • Perhaps the most insightful work I've ever seen on the advance of cameras is an article put out there by wired YEARS AGO.... (December '96)

    Really, Wired was so far ahead of its time....

    The transparent society [wired.com]

    I defy anyone to explain why this article doesn't, in two pages or less, explain the problem and the only truly viable solution...

  • I'm not too concerned about face recognition technology being used by the government to track me. That would require that I've done something illegal, was caught, and my mug shots are in the system. Now, I doubt a government funded system will be powerful enough to track all the mugs of all the felons in America.

    What concerns me are the Commercial applications of this kind of tool. We've all complained about how Doubleclick.com and other such businesses invade our privacy by tracking our web surfing habits. Well, imagine getting a membership card to someplace like Sams or Costco. They take your picture when you get this card. These stores have cameras. These stores have affiliates. Imagine if the corporate world decided it was a good idea to use this face recognition technology to follow consumers around and find out what their shopping habits are. The camera a the local grocery store may catch you lingering too long in the baby section, showing that you likely have children, or in the frozen section next to the ice cream, showing that you likely have a sweet tooth. Or maybe that surveilance camera at the convenience store will catch you lingering by the nudy magazine rack...

    If you're really worried about this technology, don't be afraid of how the government will use it. The government has limits in budget and what it can get away with. Worry about the corporations.
  • The potential for abuse is astronomical. Pervasive automatic face recognition could be used to track individuals wherever they go.
    If the government wanted to secretly track me wherever I went, they could easily do so today by deploying a team of operatives to follow me everywhere. As long as the surveilance takes place in public, my understanding is that there is nothing illegal about this.

    If the government wanted to track everyone in the country using facial recognition, they would have to buy a lot of powerful computers. If the government wanted to track everyone in the country using physical surveilance, they would have to hire a lot of operatives. Ultimately, the former avenue will turn out to be more fiscally and logistically prudent, but we can't fault the government for frugality.

    The technology is hardly foolproof. Among the potential downsides are false positives, for example that so-and-so was "seen" on a street frequented by drug dealers. Such a report will create "facts" that the individual must explain away.
    This point is ridiculous. The same issue exists will all current forms of identification: there is a probability of misidentification associated with the identification method. If a fingerprint says you were at a crime scene, your defense attorney will call a scientist as an expert witness to state that the technology is XX.XXX% inaccurate. Same with DNA, witness identifications, etc. The process of "explaining away" digital face recognitions identifications is no different, and the possibility of misidentification no more alarming.

    It is very hard to provide effective notice of the presence and capabilities of cameras in most public places, much less obtain meaningful consent.
    BS. All over Britain, for instance, you'll find signs that say, "This area monitored by CCTV." That's effective notice as far as I'm concerned. The average citizen there knows what a CCTV camera does and is capable of, just as the average citizen will become familiar with facial recognition technology if it becomes pervasive. (I think it's reasonable to demand that the capabilities of the system be publicly available.)

    If face recognition technologies are pioneered in countries where civil liberties are relatively strong, it becomes more likely that they will also be deployed in countries where civil liberties hardly exist. In twenty years, at current rates of progress, it will be feasible for the Chinese government to use face recognition to track the public movements of everyone in the country.
    We can only debate the propriety and legality of the technology in countries that protect privacy. The technology will advance and cheapen to the point where it avails the government of Evil Country X regardless of American civil liberty law. I really don't think the Chinese government bases its surveillance decisions around what happens at the Superbowl.

    Of course, if the US chose to oppose widespread deployment of facial recognition technology, then it would have a moral high ground from which to decry Chinese human rights abuses. This works in China because the US holds a carrot of cash and commerce that allows it to exert influence on Beijing. In North Korea, Iran, and a whole lotta other countries that couldn't care less above American notions of morality, the opposition would gain nothing.

    .............

    I'll close by mentioning that in the country I live in (the United States of America), my identity is not private when I'm in public. I am required by law to carry legal identification with me at all times when in public, and am required to present it to any police officer who asks to see it. If a cop asks to see my ID 50 times an hour, I would consider it harrassment and grounds for a civil suit. But (again, IANAL) I consider the harrassment to be a result of the repeated interaction between me and the cop; if the cop were to establish my identification once and then tell all his cop and robot buddies, "Hey, this is Steven, he looks like this, keep an eye on him," I wouldn't have grounds for complaint. (This obviously links back to the operative surveilance scenario mentioned at the beginning.)

There must be more to life than having everything. -- Maurice Sendak

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