We should be very concerned about this – the article treats this as though it’s some kind of amazing breakthrough, but others have had their lives ruined by errors in these systems. Facial recognition cameras are not fool proof!
Its the ultimate music lover’s fantasy – being picked out of the audience by your idol at a huge rock concert for a fleeting moment of on-stage fame and adulation.
But in China, you are more likely to be picked out by one of thousands of police surveillance cameras which link people to crimes through advanced facial recognition technology.
That’s what happened last week to a 31-year-old man who was held by police for questioning over an “economic dispute” as he waited with more than 60,000 fans of Hong Kong’s Jacky Cheung for a night of pumping Cantopop.
The suspect, who was identified only as Mr Ao, had driven almost 60 miles to the concert in the south-eastern city of Nanchang with his wife and several friends, reports say.
But shortly after the music began, police approached him to say that his facial features indicated he was wanted in connection with an economic crime they had investigated in the nearby Guangxi region.
“The suspect was shocked that he was found among tens of thousands of people, “ said Li Jin, a local police officer, according to the China Daily.
It’s the latest example of facial recognition being used to catch suspects for a wide range of crimes and misdemeanours in China.
It’s Orwellian in the extreme!
Here’s the other side – what happens when it goes wrong, and I urge you to read the full story linked at the end. This is only part of a much longer story – the poor guy was put through the mill!
It was just after sundown when a man knocked on Steve Talley’s door in south Denver. The man claimed to have hit Talley’s silver Jeep Cherokee and asked him to assess the damage. So Talley, wearing boxers and a tank top, went outside to take a look.
Seconds later, he was knocked to the pavement outside his house. Flash bang grenades detonated, temporarily blinding and deafening him. Three men dressed in black jackets, goggles, and helmets repeatedly hit him with batons and the butts of their guns. He remembers one of the men telling him, “So you like to fuck with my brothers in blue!” while another stood on his face and cracked two of his teeth. “You’ve got the wrong guy,” he remembers shouting. “You guys are crazy.”
Talley was driven to a Denver detention center, where he was booked for two bank robberies — the first on May 14 and the second on September 5, 2014, 10 days before his arrest — and for assaulting an officer during the second robbery.
After surveillance camera images of the September robbery were publicly distributed, three of Talley’s acquaintances called in with tips to the police hotline, noting similarities between Talley’s appearance and the robber’s. A detective then showed photographs of both the May and September robber to Talley’s estranged ex-wife. “That is Steven,” she told him. “That is my ex-husband.”
The identifications justified Talley’s detention, even though he claimed he had been at work as a financial adviser for Transamerica Capital when the May robbery took place. Talley said he was held for nearly two months in a maximum security pod and was released only after his public defender obtained his employer’s surveillance records. In a time-stamped audio recording from 11:12 a.m. on the day of the May robbery, Talley could be heard at his desk trying to sell mutual funds to a potential client. Nine miles north, a white male wearing a black baseball cap, red athletic jacket, white shorts, and black sneakers entered a U.S. Bank, where he threatened the teller, hid $2,475 in his shirt, wrestled with an off-duty officer, and jumped down a flight of 10 stairs to the parking lot. At the same time as Talley was trying to close a deal, parking lot surveillance tapes show the robber tumbling with the officer, escaping his grip, and jogging away.
Steve Talley is now fighting for compensation, his story shared publically as a warning to others of what can happen when things go wrong. Do you think China compensates its mistaken identity victims? Do you think they are ever seen again, more importantly? We mustn’t let China’s use of this technology convince us that it’s effective or safe.
I’ll leave you with this quote from the article linked above:
“It is dangerous for a video examiner to tell the court that the person on video is the defendant. If it were that easy, there would be little need for trials in a surveillance society and that’s a frightening thought.”
You have been warned.
God Bless you