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[P]
Face-recognition databases in Canada

By swr in MLP
Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 10:45:00 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

By now I hope most people have heard of the Mandrake face recognition system that first made news over two years ago when it was installed in the borough of Newham in east London. It appears that it or similar technology has been deployed in Canada.


To summarize: The Ontario Provincial Police and casinos in that province are cooperating to automatically identify (with surveillance cameras and face recognition software) people convicted of gambling offences. The system also identifies "cheats, rowdies, and other undesirables". The technology is being used by casinos in other parts of North America as well.

IMHO this kind of technology has more Orwellian potential than anything, even worse than Echelon. With the cooperation of casinos and police we are beginning to see the unification of databases that these camera+software units tie in to. The ability to track everyone, everywhere, 24/7 feels a little bit closer.

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Poll
What do you think of this technology?
o Anyone who doesn't like it should be re-educated. 17%
o I am contributing to this tech and it helps me to sleep at night. 0%
o Automated surveillance is a good thing. 6%
o Whatever. 12%
o Automated surveillance is a bad thing. 9%
o So many camera lenses, so little spraypaint... 35%
o I just finished searing my fingerprints off. I guess my next project is REALLY gonna hurt! 17%

Votes: 62
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Google
o Mandrake face recognition system
o it or similar technology has been deployed in Canada
o Echelon
o Also by swr


Display: Sort:
Face-recognition databases in Canada | 35 comments (35 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
*sniff sniff* do you smell FUD (3.70 / 10) (#1)
by unstable on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 08:58:31 AM EST

This has been in place in American casinos in Las Vegas for years. Although I do disagree with trying to "track everyone, everywhere, 24/7 " I do belive that there really is no way to prevent this technology from being used. we just have to try and contain it from being "abused".



Reverend Unstable
all praise the almighty Bob
and be filled with slack

FUD (3.00 / 4) (#5)
by Phil the Canuck on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 09:20:36 AM EST

Thank you, I did smell FUD. In the casinos in question you're being videotaped all of the time, and no one is trying to keep that a secret. The author made a huge leap from this to 1984. In this case, using this technology seems appropriate to me.

------

I don't think being an idiot comes with a pension plan though. Unless you're management of course. - hulver
[ Parent ]

Technological progression (4.50 / 2) (#32)
by swr on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 09:24:08 PM EST

Thank you, I did smell FUD. In the casinos in question you're being videotaped all of the time, and no one is trying to keep that a secret. The author made a huge leap from this to 1984.

I don't believe it is a "huge leap", but simply recognizing a progression.

Experience has shown that computer-based technology has a strong tendency to progress in certain directions. Faster, cheaper, more ubiquitous, and more connected.

This surveillance technology is clearly becoming more widespread. And with such cooperation between organizations as I mentioned in the submission, the number of face-name mappings available to these systems increases. The result is that there are more automated surveillance systems recognizing more people, more often. I see no indication that this trend will stop. If anything it will accelerate as this technology is deployed.

The only building-block that is missing (or that I am simply unaware of) is the coordination of information from multiple cameras for data mining purposes. I don't see any reason such coordination and data mining will have any more difficulty or less incentive for automated surveillance systems than there has been for (for example) bar-code scanners at the supermarket checkout.

Do you understand that the technologies described here have the potential to effectively track everyone, (almost) everywhere, all of the time - at relatively low cost beyond the existing investment in CCTV cameras? If so, do you know of some reason that the people performing video surveillance today will be unwilling or unable to deploy these technologies in the future?



[ Parent ]
"FUD"? (3.00 / 2) (#22)
by Erf on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 03:18:24 PM EST

I don't think it's FUD, per se. For one thing, swr does point out in the article that, "The technology is being used by casinos in other parts of North America as well."

I also think this is something that should be pointed out. I'm not saying it shouldn't be implemented, but that people should keep an eye on this sort of thing, to keep it from being abused (as you pointed out). The way it's put in the article might be a bit strong, but I think it's a good point.

-Erf.
...doin' the things a particle can...
[ Parent ]

I'd be worried if I were a criminal (3.07 / 14) (#2)
by retinaburn on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 09:11:00 AM EST

I have no problem being taped consistently ( don't have much choice unless I never leave my house), and using this data to search for known criminals is fine by me. I can see the Orwellian point of view but it seems very unlikely at this stage of the game that our government/police force would want to track Average Joe Citizen. Perhaps in 20 years or so the technology will be available to track everyone, they may choose to do so, then I would have a problem with it.

What if they ended up tying this into the other info the Canadian government has on us....They notice you at the casino, look at your tax form, see no mention of any winnings claimed and ding you for tax evasion. That would be bad...if I ever won anything ;)


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


Don't wait! Act now! (4.75 / 4) (#6)
by Karmakaze on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 09:28:43 AM EST

Perhaps in 20 years or so the technology will be available to track everyone, they may choose to do so, then I would have a problem with it.

But if you wait twenty years to object, it will be too late. Waiting until a problem has developed before taking action is a really poor strategy. If you see a problem developing, nip it in the bud then.

Otherwise, it's like noticing that your brakes are slipping, but waiting until you crash into something to act on it.


--
Karmakaze
[ Parent ]
Perhaps this is true (3.00 / 3) (#11)
by retinaburn on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 10:17:54 AM EST

The technology is no where near being used on even a tenth of the population.

I have protested many things that may occur in the future, but I were to protest things that may occur in 20 years, where do I stop ? 30 years, 40 years, do I protest that all should have access to the Space Elevator ?

This is a silly example but I wonder where you draw the line ?

If I were to activley protest everything I was against I would be a cold, hungry, naked, homeless man with no time for a job or a life. I make my stands where I can.

The future is most easily changed at "cusp times".


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
Gotta love rateings :) (2.50 / 4) (#9)
by retinaburn on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 10:09:59 AM EST

3 ratings as a 1, where 1 refers to Inane/noise comment. Glad my thoughts are inane/noise LOL.


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
You're right (2.00 / 2) (#10)
by Phil the Canuck on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 10:15:44 AM EST

I gave you a 5 in an attempt to counteract the poor moderation. C'mon people, there's no way that's a 1.

------

I don't think being an idiot comes with a pension plan though. Unless you're management of course. - hulver
[ Parent ]

Law of Averages (4.00 / 2) (#26)
by Robert Hutchinson on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 04:57:49 PM EST

I can see the Orwellian point of view but it seems very unlikely at this stage of the game that our government/police force would want to track Average Joe Citizen.

Average Joe (U.S.) Citizen is already being tracked by the government and police force. Try using some nonreported income to buy an "assault weapon." Before you can say "social order" ...

If tracking only targeted criminals, there'd be no need for it.

Robert Hutchinson
No bomb-throwing required.

[ Parent ]

I was referring to (none / 0) (#35)
by retinaburn on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 01:07:31 PM EST

the use of the video cameras and face-recognition to track people within the casinos.

Not the tracking using Photo ID, fingerprinting, vehicle registration, etc.


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
This is just plain ignorance (3.00 / 1) (#27)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 05:40:23 PM EST

I can see the Orwellian point of view but it seems very unlikely at this stage of the game that our government/police force would want to track Average Joe Citizen. Perhaps in 20 years or so the technology will be available to track everyone, they may choose to do so, then I would have a problem with it.

My sentiments on this are much more eloquently than I could say represented here:

"First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the homosexuals, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a homosexual.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics, but I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak up."

This is by Reverend Martin Niemoeller who was sent to Dachau in 1938 by the Gestapo.


My bodyweight is muscle and cock MMM
Tenured K5 uberdouchebag Herr mirleid
Meatgazer Frau gr3y


[ Parent ]
But there is a difference (none / 0) (#34)
by retinaburn on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 01:05:19 PM EST

It would be more accurate if it said "First they may come for the <x> in 20 years" ...


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
Easy to defeat *for now* (4.57 / 7) (#3)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 09:12:41 AM EST

Wear decent make up or a decent mask. Change them often.

Until resolution increases and the pattern recognition software can deal with eyeballs or fingerprints in realtime, you're set.

Then one just has to wear gloves and sunglasses.

Until the software also takes in body size, posture, mass, etc.

Then the disguises get a wee bit more complicated and call for acting lessons to learn how to hold one's self in different manners.

The real danger is when sniffing machines are perfected that can grab chemicals, hormones, dna, etc. from our normal everyday detrius and make a concrete identification. The only obvious subversive workaround for that is (ala Wil McCarthy's Murder in the Solid State) some type of jamming mechanism.

Gait recognition (4.00 / 5) (#8)
by Mawbid on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 09:53:08 AM EST

You forgot gait recognization

[ Parent ]
Easy to defeat? (3.50 / 2) (#14)
by Phil the Canuck on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 11:02:45 AM EST

You won't get very far into that casino wearing a mask.

------

I don't think being an idiot comes with a pension plan though. Unless you're management of course. - hulver
[ Parent ]

wrong type of mask (4.00 / 2) (#15)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 11:05:45 AM EST

You are thinking of Halloween/Marti Gras style masks.

Think of Mission Impossible style masks and professional stage makeup that can change one's facial structure.

[ Parent ]

Ahhhhh... (4.00 / 2) (#18)
by Phil the Canuck on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 01:34:10 PM EST

OK. That makes more sense, although I try not to spend too much time thinking about Mission Impossible.

------

I don't think being an idiot comes with a pension plan though. Unless you're management of course. - hulver
[ Parent ]

OT: amusing vision. (4.50 / 6) (#4)
by i on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 09:13:59 AM EST

I imagine hordes of geeks wearing identical clothes: black jeans, black trekking boots, black knitted masks, and white T-shirts with "Monitor me harder" inscription on both sides. Can you say "wishful thinking"?

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

Even Better (3.33 / 3) (#12)
by Matrix on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 10:40:00 AM EST

We all wear masks with the face of the leader or former leader of our country on it and identical clothing. Should produce some interesting reports, no? ;)


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

best yet (3.50 / 2) (#13)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 10:54:12 AM EST

We all go dressed like and wearing the face of Emmanuel Goldstein

[ Parent ]
How much >IS< a healthy amount of paranoia? (4.50 / 2) (#7)
by tetsuo on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 09:51:34 AM EST

Short answer? If it was food we'd all be malnourished.

I could prattle off a dozen links (prolly will in a sub when I get home) about the growing invasion of privacy in the four borroughs of k5 (Australia, Canada, Great Britian, US), not only by the respective governments of those nations, but also by corporations.

I pray the proles wake up before it's too late.
---

Newsflash... (3.00 / 3) (#16)
by Signal 11 on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 11:42:34 AM EST

It's been in Los Vegas in the US for almost 6 years.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
The question is... (4.50 / 2) (#17)
by trhurler on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 12:44:34 PM EST

Why is it that all the same people who go around yakking about how information wants to be free are at the same time going around yakking about how they want to prevent businesses and governments from finding out information about them? The contradiction is immediately obvious, so one has to presume these people are either brainwashed, stupid, or both.

Folks, you cannot have it both ways. Diffusion and aggregation of information is inevitable, and the idea that this should only apply to entities you approve of is inane. They're going to keep massive databases on all of us, and there's absolutely nothing we can do about it - laws won't stop them from analyzing and storing information about you anymore than those laws are stopping you from ripping off musicians and record labels with your hundred gigabyte mp3 collection or downloading the latest warez.

The important thing isn't what they know - the important thing is what they can do with the information. This is why you should be fighting for smaller, more controllable government. Eventually, this kind of surveillance is going to be ubiquitous, and we might as well not worry too much about that fact, because we can't change it and probably won't want to when all is said and done. However, we can and should change government so that it cannot take improper action based on the information gained.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

both ways (3.00 / 1) (#19)
by mikpos on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 02:19:24 PM EST

You most definitely can have it both ways. The key is to remove power from the elite (businesses and government) and return it to the people. Note that "McDonald's shouldn't be videotaping me" doesn't necessarily mean "I will whine to my representative until the law is changed making it illegal"; it more likely means "I will not patronise McDonald's". Of course when dealing with government, it's a bit trickier (since in that case, the only way to give your message across is to whine to your MP or vote or whatnot). Still, it's likely not a case of "it should be illegal", but "I will not vote for this person".

[ Parent ]
So then... (none / 0) (#20)
by trhurler on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 02:22:33 PM EST

It is your position that information should be free, so long as the recipient is someone you approve of. If an individual acquires information, that is fine, but if a business or a government does so, that is not. For the moment, I'm not talking about legal or practical considerations, but rather the ethical ones - how can you say that "well, I like these people, so they can gather information, but those people are bad, so screw them?" Your position appears ludicrously hypocritical.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
yes (none / 0) (#31)
by mikpos on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 06:38:14 PM EST

Hypocritical, but not ludicrously so, I don't think. I don't think it's too unreasonable that I should consider it okay that someone does something I think is okay, but not okay if someone does something I don't think is okay. You have to have hypocrisy at some point, otherwise you__ have no basis for ethics (e.g. it's okay to breathe, but__ not okay to murder. Both are actions, but I'm treating___ them unequally, being hypocritical).

If you're concerned about it being unjust between entities (i.e. people being treated differently than organisations), that's not really the case either. Joe Blow videotaping you is just as wrong as McDonald's taping you.

[ Parent ]

confusing issues (5.00 / 1) (#25)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 04:11:05 PM EST

Why is it that all the same people who go around yakking about how information wants to be free are at the same time going around yakking about how they want to prevent businesses and governments from finding out information about them?

I'm not entirely certain that my criticism is valid, but it seems to me that trhurler is taking the slogan of a few hard core demagogues and attempting to apply it out of context to people that support open source or free software. There are some individuals that claim the "right" to [h|cr]ack into any computer system, anywhere, anytime. For these individuals to turn around and claim that rights of privacy are being violated, yes as trhurler says:

The contradiction is immediately obvious, so one has to presume these people are either brainwashed, stupid, or both.

The vast majority of the open source and free software crowd I have had dealings with believe that while information wants to be free, it has to be set free consensually. These indviduals would encourage companies to release source code by choice, but still acknowledge the right of companies to keep source code closed. Further, most of the open source and free software movements don't ask that all information be freed. I do not recall a single call from any of RMS's, ESR's or BP's disciples for corporations to turn their entire business plans and customers lists into public knowledge. The battle cry is that open source/free software is a superior model for software development, not that all information should be free.

There are also two further distinctions that I think are relevant to this discussion. The first is one of authority/power. The second is of the nature of a legal entity. Government, as trhurler knows, by its position has a certain amount of authority and power unmatched by the individual member of society. Care must be taken to prevent the government from abusing its power. I would argue that the same holds for corporations. In all market economies, money is power and care must be taken to prevent those with power from abusing their power.

The second distinction is between individuals and legal fictions. I'll gladly give up most of my rights of privacy to individuals. I do think that there should be massive restrictions on what access corporations (legal fictions) have on acquiring my personal data. This is especially true in a country (like the US) where the directors and shareholders of corporations have so little legal responsibility for actions taken by their corporation.

[ Parent ]

Hmm... (4.00 / 1) (#28)
by trhurler on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 05:40:55 PM EST

My comment was actually aimed primarily at the sort of people, very common among computer types, who claim that, for instance, intellectual property laws should be abolished - and yet somehow think that after they do that, they can turn around and decide amongst themselves who can get data on what and why, in the name of "privacy." It was not particularly aimed at free software as a movement, although there are certainly a lot of people involved in both of these.

I agree that government should face restrictions the rest of us do not, but I don't think information is one of them. If it isn't illegal for a private citizen to look up my publicly available information, extrapolate what he can that isn't there, and store that, then it shouldn't be illegal for a government to do so - but there should be strict controls on the government's ability to disseminate and/or utilize information. The reason I make the distinction is that restrictions on action is enforcable - you can overturn a conviction, send a corrupt official to prison, and so on - but you cannot easily determine what information is being kept without constantly spending a lot of time, effort, and money.

As for "legal fictions," which term I somewhat agree with and find highly amusing, the question is, what are they doing? I cannot say that I have any problem with them storing information they obtain about me, or with them trading it around. However, I do think harassment laws should be expanded such that if I tell company X "quit calling me" and I hear from them again, the company can be punished, for instance. It is ridiculous that I as an individual am bound by such laws, and marketroids are not.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
to a large extent I agree (none / 0) (#33)
by Anonymous 242 on Fri Jan 19, 2001 at 08:59:46 AM EST

I also think that to a certain extent we are talking past each other. I believe that most of that is due to myself being somewhat unclear.

As far as casinos (and other private properties) go, I have no problem with them using whatever type of camera and software they want provided they disclose the extent of the monitoring. For example, if they have cameras in the bathroom stalls, even though it is bad taste, as long as there are large warning signs mentioning that my voyage to the porcelain throne is being monitored, I don't have a problem with it. I can choose not to go.

Governements on the other hand, have resources and privelidges past putting cameras and monitors up in government owned buildings. Governments could put cameras up on phone polls and monitor areas that are not owned by anyone while I as an indvidual, even if I have the resources to do such, do not have the priviledge of being able to do so. In cases where equal potential does not exist, I think that information collecting should be severly limited.

I do agree that most of the restrictions should be on what companies actually do with the information that is being gathered. In my mind, the most important aspect of this is full disclosure. If a casino maps my face to my credit card and sells information about my individual spending habits, I believe that I have the right to know so that I may choose whether or not to frequent that casino based on how much I care about what that casino does with my personal information.

I also fully agree that harassment laws should be expanded. The local newspaper recently lost my business when they continued to call me at least once a week to ask if I wanted to subscribe when I was already a subscriber. Corporate stupidity, past a certain extent, ought to be both a civil and criminal offense.

[ Parent ]

The answer is... (5.00 / 1) (#29)
by swr on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 05:54:09 PM EST

Why is it that all the same people who go around yakking about how information wants to be free are at the same time going around yakking about how they want to prevent businesses and governments from finding out information about them? The contradiction is immediately obvious, so one has to presume these people are either brainwashed, stupid, or both.

I'm of the belief that information wants to be free, but I don't believe that information must be free. We do have some say in the matter. Just because we can't put the genie back into the bottle doesn't mean we have to let it out in the first place.

Folks, you cannot have it both ways. Diffusion and aggregation of information is inevitable, and the idea that this should only apply to entities you approve of is inane. They're going to keep massive databases on all of us, and there's absolutely nothing we can do about it - laws won't stop them from analyzing and storing information about you anymore than those laws are stopping you from ripping off musicians and record labels with your hundred gigabyte mp3 collection or downloading the latest warez.

Rhetorical question:
Can I find your medical records on Gnutella?

We as a society have made decisions about what information about ourselves should be made available to anyone who asks and what should be given only minimal distribution. AFAICS the whole concept of privacy is based on this distinction.

We as a society need to make a decision on tracking via video surveillance now, before the genie gets out of the bottle. The problem is, the majority of people don't seem to be aware of the abilities of current technology, nevermind what will be available by the time they realize what is going on. Still others, such as yourself, are content to throw up their hands in hopelessness and/or apathy. I sincerely hope that situation changes soon.



[ Parent ]
You aren't entirely wrong, but... (5.00 / 1) (#30)
by trhurler on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 06:21:15 PM EST

You missed my point. The same crowd that is clamoring about how all information control is unethical are clamoring for privacy protection.

As for the genie and the bottle, it has been out for a long time. The only thing left isn't really the surveillance so much as the automation of analysis and integration, and since you can't see that happening, you can bet money you won't be able to stop it; there won't be any smoking guns to take to the judge.

Therefore, as I said, it is all about preventing abuse of the information, rather than acquisition and compilation.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
OT: Police-protected business model (3.00 / 1) (#21)
by Erf on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 03:13:59 PM EST

This is a tangent, but isn't it interesting how the casinos managed to get the government to protect their horribly flawed business model? (It's "flawed" because all those games can be cheated, in principle.)

I mean, surveillance is a good idea, and so are the lengths to which the casinos go to make cheating harder, but they've also managed to make cheating a criminal offense.

I'm not sure I agree with it, but I'm not sure I disagree, either. I mean, the govenment protects consumers in lots of other ways; this serves to make people's gambling experience more enjoyable and secure. But I don't think it's a criminal offense to cheat at sports (correct me if I'm wrong).

Then again, cheating a casino amounts to theft from that casino (which isn't necessarily the case in all broken business models). So in that sense they've always been protected. But aren't there special laws regarding casinos?

-Erf.
...doin' the things a particle can...

cheating (1.00 / 1) (#23)
by delmoi on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 03:45:13 PM EST

And, of course, not cheating amounts to having the casino steal from you....
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
re: cheating (4.00 / 2) (#24)
by Erf on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 04:09:52 PM EST

Actually, unless the casino lies about your odds of winning (and I think that's also a criminal offense, no?) it's more like making a donation...

-Erf.
...doin' the things a particle can...
[ Parent ]

Face-recognition databases in Canada | 35 comments (35 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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