Ever, an "unlimited photo storage app," secretly fed its users' photos to a face-recognition system pitched to military customers UPDATE

Update: I've been emailed twice by Ever PR person Doug Aley, who incorrectly claimed that Ever's signup notice informed users that their data was going to be used to train an AI that would be marketed for military applications. It's true that during the signup process, users are asked whether they want to "use" facial recognition (that is, to label their images), but not whether they consent to having their images used to train that system, and especially not for commercial military applications.

Ever is an app that promises that you can "capture your memories" with unlimited photo storage, with sample albums featuring sentimental photos of grandparents and their grandkids; but Ever's parent company has another product, Ever AI, a facial recognition system pitched at military agencies to conduct population-scale surveillance. Though Ever's users' photos were used to train Ever AI, Ever AI's sales material omits this fact -- and the only way for Ever users to discover that their photos have become AI training data is to plough through a 2,500 "privacy policy." Read the rest

Amazon's staffing up a news vertical full of crime stories designed to scare you into buying a spying, snitching "smart" doorbell

Ring is a "smart" doorbell that Amazon bought for $1B in 2018, and proceeded to turn into an insecure, networked surveillance device, (possibly wired into Amazon's facial recognition system) and connected to law enforcement so that the company could advertise that owning a Ring made you a good citizen of your neighborhood, part of a mesh of relentless eyes-on-the-street that identified suspicious strangers and sicced the law on them, frontended by an app named with pitch-perfect creepiness: "Neighbors." Read the rest

Political candidate's kids use his election flyers to fool his laptop's facial recognition lock

Matt Carthy is a Sinn Fein MEP from Eire; he's standing for re-election in the upcoming EU elections and has had fliers prepared with his headshot. Read the rest

What the rest of the world doesn't know about Chinese AI

ChinAI Jeff Ding's weekly newsletter reporting on the Chinese AI scene; on the occasion of the newsletter's first anniversary, Ding has posted a roundup of things about the Chinese AI scene that the rest of the world doesn't know about, or harbors incorrect beliefs about. Read the rest

Amazon shareholders to vote on proposal to stop selling racially biased facial surveillance software to governments

“BIG DEAL,” says the ACLU's Matt Cagle about this story. “Amazon shareholders will vote on whether the Board must reconsider company sales of face surveillance to governments. The SEC rejected Amazon's attempt to prevent this proposal from moving forward.” Read the rest

China is rushing facial and voice recognition tech for pigs. Here's why.

In China, technology firms are working with the government to push voice and facial recognition to help pigs, many of which have been dying from a swine disease that's sweeping the country. Read the rest

The Safe Face Pledge: an ethical code of conduct for facial recognition scientists and developers

The Safe Face Pledge launched last month as a "pledge to mitigate abuse of facial analysis technology," with four themes: "Show Value for Human Life, Dignity, and Rights;" "Address Harmful Bias"; "Facilitate Transparency"; and "Embed Commitments into Business Practices" (SAFE). Read the rest

Whistleblower: Amazon Ring stores your doorbell and home video feeds unencrypted and grants broad "unfettered" access to them

Sources "familiar with Ring's practices" have told The Intercept that the company -- a division of Amazon that makes streaming cameras designed to be mounted inside and outside your home -- stores the video feeds from its customers' homes in unencrypted format and allows staff around the world to have essentially unfettered access to these videos. Read the rest

The Chinese government is putting tracking chips into school uniforms to watch every move kids make

Just when you thought that the Chinese government's extensive surveillance of the country's citizens couldn't get any creepier or more intrusive, Xi Jingping slyly raises an eyebrow and asks the west to hold his Tsingtao:

From The Epoch Times:

In China’s latest quest to build an all-seeing surveillance state, schools have become part of the state’s monitoring apparatus.

Students at more than 10 schools in Guizhou Province, one of China’s poorest provinces, and the neighboring Guangxi region are now required to wear “intelligent uniforms,” which are embedded with electronic chips that track their movements.

The uniforms allow school officials, teachers, and parents to keep track of the exact times that students leave or enter the school, Lin Zongwu, principal of the No. 11 School of Renhuai in Guizhou Province, told the state-run newspaper Global Times on Dec. 20.

If students skip school without permission, an alarm will be triggered.

If students try to game the system by swapping uniforms, an alarm also will sound, as facial-recognition equipment stationed at the school entrance can match a student’s face with the chip embedded in the uniform.

Each of the "intelligent uniforms" contain two tracking chips which, according to the company that makes them, can withstand temperatures of up to 150 degrees Celsius and at least 500 runs through a washing machine -- so much for accidentally destroying the hardware. In addition to keeping track of the whereabouts of the kids that wear them for every moment of their school day, the uniforms' chip set can also tell when a child is nodding off during the school day and be used to make cashless purchases of school lunches and other educational necessities. Read the rest

London cops are subjecting people in the centre of town to facial recognition today and tomorrow

People in Soho, Piccadilly Circus, and Leicester Square are being told by the London Metropolitan Police to submit to a trial of the force's notoriously inaccurate, racially biased facial recognition system, which clocks in an impressive error-rate of 98% (the system has been decried by Professor Paul Wiles, the British biometrics commissioner, as an unregulated mess). Read the rest

Chinese AI traffic cam mistook a bus ad for a human and publicly shamed the CEO it depicted for jaywalking

China's war on jaywalking went to the next level last spring when AI-based facial recognition systems were integrated into some crosswalks, to punish jaywalkers by squirting them with water, sending them texts warning them about legal consequences of jaywalking, and/or publicly shaming them by displaying their pictures and names on large digital billboards. Read the rest

Machine learning hucksters invent an AI racist uncle that predicts your personality from your facial bone structure

Phrenology (the fake science of predicting personality from the shape of your cranial bones) is like Freddy Kruger, an unkillable demon who rises from the grave every time some desperate huckster decides they need to make a few extra bucks. Read the rest

Amazon is actively pitching face-recognition to ICE

Despite an uprising of Amazon employees over the use of the company's AI facial recognition program ("Rekognition") in law enforcement, the company is actively courting US Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the hopes that it will use the wildly inaccurate technology. Read the rest

Spectacle frames that reflect infrared light, blinding CCTV cameras

Eccentric spectacle-maker Scott Urban kickstarted his Reflectacles in 2016: ray-ban-style frames inset with highly retroreflective material that is visible from hundreds of meters and strobes under a flash, making for fantastic photos. Read the rest

A Nest doorbell locks door when it confuses homeowner with his Batman shirt

When a man tried to enter his own house, his Nest doorbell got suspicious and snapped the doorlock shut. Nest's facial recognition feature confused the man, B.J. May, with the Batman T-shirt he was wearing, and apparently even Batman isn't allowed through the front door without the owner's consent.

Nest was just following orders, and May didn't hold a grudge. In a later tweet he said, "To answer some questions: Yes, the door was unlocked. My family was home, and my son was in/out the front door playing. I unlocked the door using my pin. I also could have used the phone app. It was no biggie, I just thought the face recognition fail was funny."

Via Mashable

Image: Max Pixel/Creative Commons Zero - CC0 Read the rest

Calgary malls caught secretly using facial recognition to characterise shoppers' age and gender

Calgary's Chinook Centre and Market Mall -- operated by Cadillac Fairview -- have been caught running background software that analysed the footage from the CCTVs in the malls' electronic directories to guess at the age and gender of visitors, without consent or notification. Read the rest

The ACLU showed that Amazon's facial recognition system thinks members of Congress are felons, so now Congress is taking action

After learning that Amazon was pushing the use of Rekognition, its facial recognition tool, for use in policing (a global phenomenon that is gaining momentum despite the material unsuitability of these tools in policing contexts), the ACLU of Northern California had a brainwave: they asked Rekognition to evaluate the faces of the 115th Congress of the United States. Read the rest

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