Facial recognition deployments with lax regulations under scrutiny around the world


Several facial recognition projects around the world have recently come under intense scrutiny, spurred by concerns from privacy advocates that the technology is not being properly regulated.

In Russia, digital rights group Roskomsvoboda calls for more transparency in the handling of citizens’ biometric data collected as part of Face Pay’s Moscow metro card, and in Singapore, a survey conducted by Rest of World aims to undermine the “almost uncritical faith in technology” of government agencies.

In addition, three civil society groups called for a ban on automatic facial recognition devices and CCTV technology in Switzerland; RFA reported a widening of alleged use of technology by China to suppress Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang, and OpenGlobalRights suggested that emotion-sensing surveillance systems could be used to spot people unfavorable to the Korean government. North.

Moscow’s Face Pay system needs more transparency, digital rights group

Russian digital privacy activists Roskomsvoboda said the new biometric system was “a good excuse to put cameras on turnstiles,” The New York Times reported.

Group director Artyom Koslyuk said Roskomsvoboda has uncovered evidence that the system is vulnerable to intruders who can use the data and images for criminal purposes, although officials in Moscow have insisted the information were securely encrypted.

Following the new findings, Koslyuk called for a more transparent monitoring system for this technology and other advanced biometric technologies that could be used for surveillance purposes.

“We have to be sure there are controls,” he told The New York Times. “These upgrades can be a double-edged sword.”

Survey around the world sheds light on Singapore surveillance practices

Confidence in the surveillance system is high in the country, according to the rest of the world, with 90,000 police cameras currently installed across the island nation, and a growing number of facial recognition cameras and crowd analysis systems. deployed daily.

According to the tech-focused publication, the technology used as part of these surveillance systems is not new, but “the ruling party in Singapore sees dangers everywhere and seems increasingly willing to scrutinize individually and en masse. people’s life “.

The trend became particularly clear in September 2021, when the Home Team Science and Technology Agency deployed its Xavier robots, tasked with verifying social distancing and anti-social behavior via artificial intelligence and biometric sensors.

These initiatives would apparently fuel a growing sense of nervousness in public life, but due to their growing reach, many people in Singapore do not feel safe to voice their dissent.

Swiss petition aims to limit the scope of facial recognition

Three civil society groups have called for a ban on automatic facial recognition devices and surveillance technology in the country, SWI reports.

Led by the Swiss section of Amnesty International, the organizations said the combination of the two technologies represents a “worrying step towards a comprehensive and permanent system of mass surveillance.”

According to NGOs, if left unregulated, these surveillance technologies will quickly spread across Europe, and Swiss authorities will therefore soon approve the legal basis in the country.

“The target is not just the criminals, but the entire population,” Erik Schönenberger of the rights group Digital Society told SWI.

The news comes months after Switzerland’s proposed digital identity framework came under scrutiny over privacy concerns.

China’s alleged persecution of Uyghurs made worse by surveillance technology

A bipartisan commission in the US Congress has warned that China’s use of technology to suppress Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang is spreading and could be exported around the world, reports Radio Free Asia.

The hearing was held in Washington and hosted by the US Congressional Executive Committee on China.

During the session, Co-Chair Jeff Merkley said that without limits in protecting the privacy and human rights of individuals, technology can be used to control populations, prevent free speech and undermine democratic institutions. Merkley spoke of surveillance drones, facial recognition cameras, cellphone scans and an extensive police presence, as well as China’s digital Silk Road project.

The latter is part of the country’s Belt and Road initiative to improve digital connectivity abroad, but according to Merkley, it is also “an intrusive ecosystem of internet architecture and surveillance technology aimed at expand the influence of the People’s Republic of China in the world “.

The hearing took place two days after US President Joe Biden and Xi Jinping met in a virtual meeting to discuss bilateral ties.

According to RFA, heads of state have discussed the situation in Xinjiang, but no further details have been disclosed at the time of writing.

Emotion-sensing technology could improve surveillance in North Korea: OpenGlobalRights

According to privacy rights activists OpenGlobalRights, the same types of surveillance technology used to allegedly suppress Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang could be deployed in North Korea.

The OpenGlobalRights report said that by combining facial recognition and emotion detection, it can become extremely easy for technocratic governments to spot dissidents, even in large crowds.

A similar system is said to be already being tested on Uyghurs in China, the BBC reported earlier this year, with potentially dire implications for privacy rights around the world.

To tackle the problem before technology becomes part of people’s daily lives, OpenGlobalRights said democracies have an urgent responsibility to act.

The civil liberties organization then concluded its article by mentioning Digital Nations, a group of countries working together to promote responsible use of technology among governments.

Articles topics

biometric data | biometrics | China | data protection | recognition of emotions | facial recognition | North Korea | confidentiality | regulation | Russia | Singapore | Switzerland | video surveillance


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