Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy United States Technology

Public Facial Recognition Is Making Gains In Surveillance 128

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-see-you dept.
dryriver writes in with a link to a Times story about the U.S. government's capabilities when it comes to facial recognition. "The federal government is making progress on developing a surveillance system that would pair computers with video cameras to scan crowds and automatically identify people by their faces, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with researchers working on the project. The Department of Homeland Security tested a crowd-scanning project called the Biometric Optical Surveillance System — or BOSS — last fall after two years of government-financed development. Although the system is not ready for use, researchers say they are making significant advances. That alarms privacy advocates, who say that now is the time for the government to establish oversight rules and limits on how it will someday be used. There have been stabs for over a decade at building a system that would help match faces in a crowd with names on a watch list — whether in searching for terrorism suspects at high-profile events like a presidential inaugural parade, looking for criminal fugitives in places like Times Square or identifying card cheats in crowded casinos."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Public Facial Recognition Is Making Gains In Surveillance

Comments Filter:
  • Old News (Score:3, Funny)

    by Oysterville (2944937) on Wednesday August 21, 2013 @11:37PM (#44639655)
    CTU showed this technology like two years ago. Even works on vending machine reflections.
    • Now 30% better at facial recognition than the old BOSS.
    • by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @02:45AM (#44640225)

      CTU showed this technology like two years ago. Even works on vending machine reflections.

      Yes it is old inconsequential news but that is a feature not a bug. The Times really really really needed a security surveillance state "story" to try and keep itself semi relevant in the eyes of their readers but at the same time not bite the hand that feeds them (i.e. more than a cosy relationship [theguardian.com] with the goverment).

    • Re:Old News (Score:5, Informative)

      by rapiddescent (572442) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @02:54AM (#44640261)

      even older news! I saw the anglo-dutch company Logica demonstrate this [logica.co.uk] at a PSV Eindhoven football (soccer) match where it picked a dozen volunteers (who were photo'd before the match) out of the 20,000 strong crowd using the stadiums own crappy cctv footage - this was in the early to mid 2000's. It wasn't perfect but was above 90%.

      Sadly, the UK is way ahead when it comes to CCTV technology.

  • You mean like this? (Score:5, Informative)

    by mveloso (325617) on Wednesday August 21, 2013 @11:45PM (#44639671)

    I think the article and DHS are a few years behind the curve on this. See these guys:

    http://www.nicta.com.au/media/previous_releases3/2012_media_releases/australian_face_recognition_technology_wins_major_international_ict_award [nicta.com.au]

    Also, there are a couple of live systems out there that I've heard about in airports. They could add facial recognition, but mainly they're used for object detection.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Your link doesn't seem to have any stats on accuracy. If you are going to scan hundreds of millions of faces a day in poor lighting from odd angles your algo better be 99.99999% accurate, or expect a lot of false positives.

      • "They" are killing innocent people now. This way "they" can say the software told them it was ok.
      • Yes, this.

        Enforcers have been dreaming of facial recognition good enough to match faces from a database of millions to faces in crowds scarcely smaller. Every time there's been improvement in facial recognition, they're eager to try to scale up massively. They don't seem to appreciate how good the facial recognition has to be to avoid thousands of false positives. I don't know where facial recognition is now, but 6 years ago, 90% accuracy was the best I'd heard of, and the method was that good only wit

      • by mspohr (589790)

        For "finding bad guys", it's good to have lots of false positives. This gives you lots of suspects and then you can expand your surveillance to many more people. Since there are lots of laws, everyone can be considered a criminal.
        Expect this to lead to lots more people questioned, arrested and plea bargaining their way to a "short" stay in jail.
        Big win for the surveillance state and the securocrats.

    • by cundare (1141279)
      Actually, I believe that the Vegas and Atlantic City casinos have been using facial recognition in this way for over a decade. I remember reading a piece some years ago about how the technology had been applied, either in a trade magazine or in some mainstream mag, like Wired. Supposedly -- and this is how far back this goes -- a person of interest (like a reported purse-snatcher or card-counter) could be identified by the software upon entering a casino -- based on facial characteristics shared by the c
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's just a shame that these otherwise bright individuals choose to advance technology for the government in ways that move us ever closer to a police state... But then again, it's going to happen eventually, and what we really need is to stop the government from using it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by davester666 (731373)

      They are not doing this for the gov't. Big business simply must have this, to be able to present the right ad to you as you walk by any given billboard/sign/shop, because you might not have your cell phone with you [or horrors, you might not have one].

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        If you're not constantly typing on a cellphone in your waking hours while saying "OMG!" out loud, you're probably not in their demographic...

    • by Immerman (2627577)

      There's a long historical precedent of "wizards" hooking their cart to one king or another. If it's a bad king that may suck for everyone else, but it tends to go pretty well for the wizard.

      As far as stopping the government from using it - I'm not sure that's realistically possible. Sure, we could pass all sorts of laws about it, maybe slow things down by a few decades, but cameras are getting ever smaller and cheaper, and *someone* will be collecting and collating the data. That someone will then have a

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So now people will use the material printers to print a random mask before going out.

  • by jamstar7 (694492) on Wednesday August 21, 2013 @11:51PM (#44639703)
    I bought a Guy Fawkes mask...
    • A reactive approach screws everyone. This needs to be prevented before resources are unneccessarily wasted and the tentacles of BigGov extend any further.
      It is better to win without fighting - Sun Tzu.

    • Re:Lucky for me... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by shvytejimas (1083291) <slashdot.shvytejimas@dfgh.net> on Thursday August 22, 2013 @01:49AM (#44640063)

      Wearing a mask is rather blunt. I think surveillance evading camouflage make-up [cvdazzle.com] instead will turn out to be a fashion trend during the next decade.

      As with any trend, only a handful of people would dare walk around looking like that at first - privacy supporters, activists, etc. - and they would stand out in the crowd. But the idea of camouflage might catch on as more people opted-in (some because of privacy concerns, others because it just looks cool and futuristic). Kind of like torn jeans and facial piercings from punk - they used to look shocking to some a while back, but nowadays are completely mainstream and disconnected from the originating subculture.

      • by pspahn (1175617)

        Or you could just be like Hi and put a panty on your head.

      • by Inda (580031)
        I've looked at this theory before. I even go as far as to grayscale my face and enlarge the eyes on the only single profile photo of me on the internet.

        The algorithms will adapt. They'll stop looking for eyes and other facial features. They'll start looking for face paint.
    • I don't think it matters so much what attire The Resistance wears; it just matters that it will exist.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Nixon mask might be more appropriate.

      • by jamstar7 (694492)

        Nixon mask might be more appropriate.

        But, quote to the contrary, Nixon really was a crook...

  • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Wednesday August 21, 2013 @11:53PM (#44639705)

    I find it so ironic that it's cute and I just want to give it a big cuddle...

    That alarms privacy advocates, who say that now is the time for the government to establish oversight rules and limits on how it will someday be used.

    Are these privacy advocates aware that the folks who want this most are the government that they are going to ask to curtail the ability to do it? It's like asking the playground bully to ask for permission to steal your lunch money...

    • Are these privacy advocates aware that the folks who want this most are the government that they are going to ask to curtail the ability to do it? It's like asking the playground bully to ask for permission to steal your lunch money...

      "The government" is not monolithic. It may not be perfectly representative but that is the goal.

      • by Threni (635302)

        > It may not be perfectly representative but that is the goal.

        It most certainly is not.

  • ...being in public is one of the final Fucking places we aren't under surveillance. We can't let THAT happen.
    • Re:Yes, because... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @12:24AM (#44639821)

      Usually, we're not. No, really. Yes, everyone can see you. But the expense of doing it to everyone is so prohibitive that, at least so far, law enforcement limited it to people where they had reason to do it. As they should.

      With this, it becomes trivial to do it to everyone. We have a hunch that X might have done something illegal, let's trace back his last 2 months. And it's a rather small step from "we think he did something illegal" to "he annoyed someone in power, let's find something illegal".

      • by kermidge (2221646)

        Right.

        Given the imprecise or deliberately vague wording of too many laws in describing offenses and the increasing number of those laws, the "let's find something illegal" part becomes easier, even trivial.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    whether in searching for terrorism suspects at high-profile events like a presidential inaugural parade, looking for criminal fugitives in places like Times Square or identifying card cheats in crowded casinos

    Or just recording where everyone goes and storing it for 5 years in case they need it.

    • by pitchpipe (708843) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @12:29AM (#44639837)

      whether in searching for terrorism suspects at high-profile events like a presidential inaugural parade, looking for criminal fugitives in places like Times Square or identifying card cheats in crowded casinos

      Or just recording where everyone goes and storing it for 5 years in case they need it.

      It'll just be "metadata". They won't be able to see what you're actually thinking, so that'll make it okay. At least until the next scumbag America-hater comes along and exposes how they were lying to us and spying on us for our freedom, cuz yanno, the terrorists hate our freedom.

      Er, 9/11 and stuff. LOOK! BOMBS and BAD GUYS!

      Here's a kitten.

      • Er, 9/11 and stuff. LOOK! BOMBS and BAD GUYS!

        It's actually fascinating how completely Obama copied this strategy from Bush. I kind of figured it would stop working 12 years later.

    • Not just storing. You can be assured they won't leave it to simply that.

  • This article is nothing but propaganda B.S. made to make you think they don't already have this shit deployed.

  • by msobkow (48369)

    William Gibson's writing seems to be coming closer to reality every day. Unfortunately.

    Because the technology will be abused. No doubt of it.

    • Along with Stephenson's. Every time I read about Bitcoin, I end up thinking about a datacenter in Kinakuta...

  • by Progman3K (515744)

    ... or to sell any information they have on you to the highest bidder

  • You know you lost the war when the surveillance isn't subtle anymore.

    "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."

    Excuse me, I'm gonna huddle in a corner and cry...

  • Oh just stop it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GrahamCox (741991) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @01:59AM (#44640093) Homepage
    Haven't we had enough of this shit yet? Just because something is technically feasible doesn't mean it's inevitable. If you're an engineer or developer working on this shit then please, do us all a favour and STOP, NOW. And don't give me any shit about having to earn a crust, etc. that just shows your moral compass needs recalibrating.
    • by pspahn (1175617)

      I just assumed the engineers would be H1B status. Not that it should matter as far as moral compass goes, but even that is relative. It'd be a lot easier to build things that fuck over people if you did it away from your home.

      I'm not sure humanity's collective moral compass is even able to be recalibrated at this point.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by terbeaux (2579575)
      Wait, what? Do you honestly believe that if an incentive is there that sentient organisms will not reach for it? I have a strong moral compass but that doesn't change the fact that you need to stop whatever the fuck you are doing right now to help us reengineer "the game" in order to reward people that do good while doing well. Aside from NWO fantasies, all the assholes that have money right now are extremely interested in keeping it, at all costs. This includes your family's ability to be healthful or be e
    • by Threni (635302)

      > Haven't we had enough of this shit yet? Just because something is technically
      > feasible doesn't mean it's inevitable

      If, by throwing money at a problem, one can find a solution which stifles dissent against the ruling classes then you are wrong - it IS inevitable. There is *nothing* which is not an option for investigation and ultimately deployment. There'll be rules limiting this or that usage, and those rules will be ignored, and there's nothing you can do about it whilst the current methodology

    • The German security service tested an older but still good version from Siemens (my employer) years ago, and stopped as soon as they discovered that the "birthday paradox" made it totally unsuitable for large-scale use.

      If you scan for one particular person out of thousands in an airline terminal, you get a certain small number of false positives, so it sorta works for that case. If, however, you search for the entire Baader-Meinhoff gang and all the other terrorists of the day in the same terminal, you g

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      I hope people do develop it and make it public domain. It's inevitable, so we might as well arm ourselves with the same tech. Imagine being able to automatically scan footage of cops and do facial recognition.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      While the only way this will stop is if no one will work on it, believing that no one will work on it is ridiculous. The software to do this sort of thing will be developed whether the goal is secrecy or not; robots need to be able to do face recognition to be able to work with humans in a human way, which is a common goal. Complaining of people developing the technology is therefore nothing more or less than a waste of time and emotional involvement. You should instead complain about the trends in society

  • This will be one of the first apps on Google Glass. It will be halting and clumsy at first, but it will get better and your view will just auto-pull up names of anybody you look at if you desire.

  • or identifying card cheats in crowded casinos

    Casino card cheat definition: Anyone who is good at cards and causes the house to lose.

  • ... obligatory Hodgetwins reference - bitches.
  • by korbulon (2792438) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @04:50AM (#44640603)

    What if you're at the amusement park and your child gets lost in the crowd and is nowhere to be found? BOSS can help!

    What if you have Alzheimer's and you wander off the reservation? BOSS can help!

    What if you suspect your hubby is dipping his stinger in some floozie's honeypot and you need to know? BOSS can help!

    Can't stand it when you see people you don't recognize? BOSS can help.

    What if you're a humble multinational bank that needs to track down deadbeat student loan defaulters? BOSS can help!

    What if you is a notorious drug kingpin and you wants the po-po to hunt down your bitterest of rivals fo sho? BOSS can help!

    What if you just don't like it when people look a bit "funny" or "suspicious" or "dark"? BOSS. CAN. HELP.

    BOSS. Because you have nothing left to hide.

  • The fence that will soon surround the US needed another layer. This is probably it.
    This, crossrelated with the limitless collection of metadata in the NSA vaults will make it possible to build patterns of 'normal' behaviour and use those to automatically spot anomalies as soon as they happen.
    In a few years, if you even try to prepapre organizing an Occupy-Whatever movement you will be stopped before anyone has heard about you.

    Once this is in place NO one will be able to switch it off.
  • ...building a system that would help match faces in a crowd with names on a watch list.

    This sentence struck me. This is what shouldn't happen in America. Am I just getting old? Am I just a little tired this morning? I mean, what the fuck?

  • the future of targeted advertising. not enough big nosed people walking by... time to switch the advertisement from plastic schnozz surgery to plastic boob surgery. white and want to be black? tanning bed advertisements! black and want to be white? skin whitening cream!
  • Whilst it is possible to place a 'snoop' on every street corner, it is costly and impractical. This technology takes away that barrier. What I'm more concerned about is the mis-interpretion of the data.

    For example, for a while I used to regularly drive into a known prostitution area of the local town and exit with a young lady in my car.... it just so happened that I was collecting my girlfriend (now wife) from her University evening class. Place this snippet of mis-information into a database, and it could

  • Every heard of a TV show called Person Of Interest? It acts like a sci-fi show, but the technology is based on facial recognition. This article suggests it's one step closer to being more "sci" than "fi". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1839578/ [imdb.com]

The ideal voice for radio may be defined as showing no substance, no sex, no owner, and a message of importance for every housewife. -- Harry V. Wade

Working...