Amazon secretly planned to use facial recognition and Ring doorbells to create neighborhood "watch lists"

Ring is Amazon's surveillance doorbell division, and a big part of their sales strategy involves terrifying people about the possibility of crime, partnering with police to assist in terrorizing Ring owners, and to provide police with warrantless, permanent, shareable access to surveillance doorbell footage (something the company has repeatedly lied about). Hundred of police departments have now partnered with Ring and they act as buzz-marketing teams for the company in exchange for freebies and access. Read the rest

About Face: EFF's new campaign to end government use of face surveillance

Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation launched About Face, a new national campaign to end governmental use of facial recognition technology for surveillance at all levels -- city, state and federal. Read the rest

We killed facial recognition at music festivals: next, we kill it everywhere

Evan from Fight for the Future writes, "Today Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello and I published an op-ed in Buzzfeed about how grassroots activism combined with backlash from artists and fans to kill the terrible idea of using facial recognition technology at US music festivals. We wanted to tell this story because everyone needs to know that the corporate-government surveillance dystopia of our nightmares is NOT inevitable, but it's coming fast unless we organize to stop it." Read the rest

Why we should ban facial recognition technology everywhere

In the wake of Berkeley joining the growing list of cities that ban the use of facial recognition by governments, RIT philosophy prof Evan Selinger and Northeastern law/comp sci prof Woodrow Hartzog make the case in the New York Times for a nationwide ban on facial recognition technology. Read the rest

Design fiction, politicized: the wearable face projector

In 2017, a group of Dutch design students created some fictional anonymity "products" that they displayed under the name "Group Anonymous" at Milan Design Week. Read the rest

Berkeley city council unanimously votes to ban facial recognition technology

Berkeley has joined the swelling ranks of cities (pioneered by nearby Oakland) that have passed ordinances banning the government's use of facial recognition technology, after a unanimous city council vote. Read the rest

Identity theft's newest target: your face

A lot of companies struggle with bias in the workplace, but for many big tech companies, the problem is a bit more extreme. Why, because it's not just the human beings that are racist, a lot of their algorithms are biased too. This is the problem that Google reportedly was trying to solve when they got themselves into their latest privacy scandal, tricking black and brown “volunteers” to submit to 3D face scans. Read the rest

Hong Kong bans makeup and masks so facial recognition cameras can identify protesters

Hong Kong joins the ranks of other autocratic nations that have banned face coverings in the name of national security: Sri Lanka, France, the Netherlands, Canada, etc (such bans have also been proposed in the UK, Australia, the USA). Read the rest

Ring: "We don't use facial recognition"; also Ring: "We have a head of facial recognition research"

One of the most obvious facts I've learned in covering the unfolding scandal of the secret deals between Amazon's Ring surveillance doorbell group and hundreds of US police departments is that Amazon loooooves to play word-games. Read the rest

How facial recognition has turned summer camp into a dystopia for campers, parents, counsellors and photographers (but not facial recognition vendors)

The Washington Post's Drew Harwell takes a deep look at the the use of facial recognition products like Bunk1 at summer camps, in a deliciously terrible piece that alternates between Bunk1's president Rob Burns and Waldo Photos's founder Rodney Rice explaining that everyone loves this and it makes everyone happy, and counsellors, parents, campers and photographers (as well as child development experts and civil libertarians) explaining how it is just fucking terrible, which Rice dismisses as "privacy hysteria." Read the rest

Detroit's police commissioner arrested at commissioners' meeting for demanding answers about secret meetings where facial recognition was planned

Alan Wendt writes, "Detroit commissioners arrested the police commissioner Willie Burton during a public meeting because he wouldn't stop talking about the secret meetings where the commission decided to install facial recognition systems." Read the rest

Son-of-Reflectacles: Kickstarting a new generation of anti-surveillance eyewear

Eccentric eyewear maker Scott Urban first kickstarted his "Reflectacles" frames in 2016; the frames used emedded retroreflectors to make them throw back tons of light, making them highly visible (and great for things like night cycling); subsequent iterations beefed up the IR reflectivity, which blinded many CCTV surveillance cameras (they use IR to paint low-light scenes, and their sensors can be overwhelmed if enough of that IR bounces back at them). 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

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

Forensics company advises cops not to look at seized Iphones, to avoid facial-recognition lockouts

A leaked police-training presentation from digital forensics company Elcomsoft (a company that made history due to its early run-in with the DMCA) advises officers not to look at Iphones seized from suspects in order to avoid tripping the phones' facial recognition systems -- if Iphones sense too many unlock attempts with faces other than those registered as trusted, they fall back to requiring additional unlock measures like passcodes or fingerprints. Read the rest

Ticketmaster finds a new way to be terrible: facial recognition!

Comcast may be the most hated company in America, but Ticketmaster has sure given it a run for its money, through a combination of monopolism, rent-seeking, shady dealing with scalpers and total indifference to its customers and the entertainers it nominally serves, but as bad as it is, there's still plenty of innovative ways for it to get worse. Read the rest

The DHS has illegally stuffed America's airports full of $1B worth shitty, malfing facial-recognition tech

More than a dozen major US airports are now covered in facial-recognition cameras, installed by the DHS to scan people departing on international flights without the legally mandated federal review process. Read the rest

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