Turkey scans photos for faces of disloyal citizens

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Turkey’s authoritarian rulers have reportedly used facial recognition algorithms to identify anti-government protesters.

According to news editor Nordic Monitor, the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan appears to be using biometric analysis software to identify people taken in photos taken during two protests dating back at least seven years.

Based on the reports, it is not clear whether Turkey deployed public surveillance camera systems at the time. Like many countries, it is developing its own indigenous facial recognition sector.

Politically agitated, Turkey has seen four military coups since 1960, and in 2016 another was attempted but failed. The military has been seen as an active supporter of secular democracy in the country, and some members of the coup may have been spurred on by the measures Erdoğan took in the years immediately preceding the 2016 uprising.

The government shut down Twitter and YouTube in the early 2010s after popular opposition grew and reported government corruption. Turkey’s largest newspaper, Zaman, was shut down in 2016 by Erdoğan to stop his coverage of government actions.

Photos taken of around 50 people protesting the newspaper’s shutdown were allegedly processed with facial biometrics to find and punish participants, according to Nordic Monitor coverage.

The government also used facial recognition systems to identify 12 people standing outside a courthouse to protest Erdoğan’s decision to close private preparatory schools, some of which were run by a political movement led by a living Muslim cleric. in the USA.

In 2017, newspaper editor Vice reported that the UK had authorized the export of telecommunications interception equipment and other devices to Turkey.

Although a member of NATO, Turkey has moved closer to Russia on a number of issues, some of which are explicitly anti-Western. Russia, of course, is a major buyer and deployer of facial recognition systems.

Articles topics

biometric identification | biometrics | face photo | facial recognition | Turkey


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