Is Facial Recognition & Public Surveillance A Good Thing?

Awol

LE
This will shock you...
People do watch you as you walk down the street. People watch you as you drive around, and they don't know your name. Why would facial recognition be any different? Stand on a street corner and count the number of people that walk past you in five minutes. These names flashing up in front of some imaginary operator will mean nothing. The sheer amount of data actually provides anonymity to the masses.
Unless you have a marker on you you will be ignored.



Hate to say it, but the police already use data storage, management and control systems operated by private company's.

The thing is, as much as you protest and shout "Wibble!" at the top of your voice, there are safe guards in place. Take for example NLEDS, the government have published this:

Honestly, the State really couldn't care who you are, you are not important enough to even register to them. You are a tiny insignificant insect to the public sector, as long as you are paying your money they really don't care about your privacy, because there is no reason to!
This of course presumes you are not a nefarious type, whom the police take an interest in.
That's exactly the danger..... X is already happening, so is Y and so is Z, this is just a tiny incremental step and nothing to worry about. Until you go from 20 years ago when only a villainous few were the subject of hand written reports, to today when all of us are being monitored online, by a smart meter, and by CCTV 24 hours a day. Each step is possibly insignificant on its own, but added together, it's blanket coverage.

The duty of the government is to find and prosecute those few individuals who commit crimes, it isn't their job to monitor all of us just in case a relatively tiny minority of us do wrong.

It's lazy, counterproductive and smacks of totalitarianism.
 
Not really. It was more to do with the amount of information the government at the time was going to stick on the cards. Not just ID but health records, driving records, police records and so on. Just a swipe to get all the records anyone would want. That laid it open to big brother abuse.

In Spain, they have ID cards (except for Brits who are supposed to use passports) but they don't have to carry them. They do need them to prove identity when opening bank accounts, buying something on tick, proving who you are at the hospital etc and even inter-EU travel but they don't carry all the info the Brit ones were going to do.

My driving licence (which you have to carry when driving) is all I need although the bank insists on an up to date passport which is a pain because the number is not issued for life so I have to ensure I register it with the bank when it changes.

A bit like these smart meters for electricity in Spain. They were installed here a couple of years ago but don't carry half the information the UK ones do and, if you get a power cut, they simply cut back in without having to go round clicking switches all over the place. Since ours was fitted, my bills have reduced by about 30% and I've never had a spam email because of having it.

Facial recognition will have the same cynicism, paranoia or conspiracy theories attached to it as loads of other things have. Like the NHS computer system which could be accessed from anywhere in the country but the stories were they would be used to share your data or give the data to virtually anyone, anywhere. One of the reasons it was scrapped.
I am not quite sure what you are disagreeing with me about?

I never said why people objected as much as the demographic that vocalised their objection.
 
As it stands it's rubbish as the error rate is sky high. Once it works I can see uses for it in some areas. Retail security being the obvious one as you have a relatively small number of people committing large numbers of thefts so a wide area linked system for retailers which would identify them when they're active would clearly be useful. Like any tech it can have good and bad uses, I wouldn't chuck the baby out with the bathwater just because the Chinese government are cnuts but equally I'd be wary of cost vs benefit, not a lot of point in covering the country in it if that means there are no plod to respond.
 
It would be interesting to see how often ANPR is incorrect.
 
I have seen, firsthand, some of the image and recognition software coming out of China, it is scarily good.
It is scarily good in the west too. However, as in most things the dinosaurs doing official procurement are well behind the curve. Whereas in the private sector they are grabbing onto it for security monitoring and retail intelligence.

If you want to see the best of the best in use in the west go have a look at the systems used by the casinos in Vegas who spend a fortune on making sure that their money is safe.

I have seen systems developed to track multiple individual customers in shopping malls in the UK..........really?........yes really. Systems are pretty good at facial recognition although gait analysis is supposedly a better way of tracking individuals at distance. The other method used for individual tracking is to lock onto an individuals mobile phone and use that to track their movements within the location. Using multiple sensors allows accurate tracking of individuals once their phone is locked on to. Retail wise it is used to track shoppers pathways around malls/shopping centres, time spent at given locations and interaction with other shoppers.

I always wondered what might happen if the big children managed to convince the corporations to allow them real time access to their systems.
 
It is scarily good in the west too. However, as in most things the dinosaurs doing official procurement are well behind the curve. Whereas in the private sector they are grabbing onto it for security monitoring and retail intelligence.

If you want to see the best of the best in use in the west go have a look at the systems used by the casinos in Vegas who spend a fortune on making sure that their money is safe.

I have seen systems developed to track multiple individual customers in shopping malls in the UK..........really?........yes really. Systems are pretty good at facial recognition although gait analysis is supposedly a better way of tracking individuals at distance. The other method used for individual tracking is to lock onto an individuals mobile phone and use that to track their movements within the location. Using multiple sensors allows accurate tracking of individuals once their phone is locked on to. Retail wise it is used to track shoppers pathways around malls/shopping centres, time spent at given locations and interaction with other shoppers.

I always wondered what might happen if the big children managed to convince the corporations to allow them real time access to their systems.
That was one thing I was surprised at. While they are anonymised the degree of tracking on the system I have seen is extremely intrusive, down to where the eyes go etc. Clearly a useful tool in assessing whether 'bogof' or a 33% off offer gets more interest or the uplifit in eye level vs low level placement but there seems no legal requirement for signage for these systems unlike CCTV. Not my area and only came across it as it was being tested at an office I had an unrelated meeting at and they had the live data board set up in reception. Bit disconcerting as i'd been merrily gorping at the receptionists ample cleavage while signing in.
 
That was one thing I was surprised at. While they are anonymised the degree of tracking on the system I have seen is extremely intrusive, down to where the eyes go etc. Clearly a useful tool in assessing whether 'bogof' or a 33% off offer gets more interest or the uplifit in eye level vs low level placement but there seems no legal requirement for signage for these systems unlike CCTV. Not my area and only came across it as it was being tested at an office I had an unrelated meeting at and they had the live data board set up in reception. Bit disconcerting as i'd been merrily gorping at the receptionists ample cleavage while signing in.
I had some exposure to the systems whilst doing my research studentship. Not because I was studying them, but my area of interest sort of overlapped with it and the company at the forefront of all this in the UK (possibly worldwide on the qt) was a potential employer for me <cough> xperian. I knew a few who went off there on the R&D side and the corporate side.......if you can come up with a whizzy fig way of monitoring consumers then they will buy you out. They do not just do credit checking, they have possibly the largest database on individuals in the UK (and plenty of other countries) outside of the security services (I actually think theirs is better than the security services one). They then started adding other means by which they could monitor, classify and segment individuals....if they have your mobile number, which they probably do, they lock onto you when you enter somewhere like Meadowhall, or Bluewater, then the facial recognition picks you up and adds that to the data, along with your gait pattern and if you are associated with any other mobile phone numbers/individuals who wander around with you. Then we could easily add vehicle monitoring to that, ANPR in shopping centre car parks, along with facial rec/gait analysis in the car parks. Then there are those blue poles dotted around which read number plates to monitor traffic flow - yeah right. A clever company can link all of it together and create a wonderfully humungous data warehouse to follow out little lives; predict our future shopping patterns, travel patterns, movements, etc. I might have but the civil service salary for a post graduate was piss poor.

There is also allegedly ;) image recognition software out there which will monitor physical and body movements to predict suspicious behaviour - like potential assaults, thievery and suicide bombers.

Countermeasures: Wear large floppy hats, sunglasses, cover your ear lobes, put marbles in your shoes, use taxis, cycle, get rid of your mobile phone, or move to Lady Boy land Thailand. Did I forget to mention that the software can be used over any camera system such as cameras mounted on drones, or choppers - they are already talking about 1* using drones over US cities to police them.

Note: 1* As we all know talking probably means secretly doing it. There was a telly programme I watched here about what the tech corporates here are doing and they are already openly trialing the stuff in Mexico - mainly because they would not get permission to trial it in the US. Good stuff actually it is almost like having a time machine to catch the bad guys. Once a crime is reported they can watch the recorded drone footage and follow the perpetrators back to their hidey holes. It has proper pissed off the cartels in Mexico as once a cartel hit is reported they simply timelapse follow the hitters and then swoop in to nick them, or watch them.

Bit of a ramble, sorry. Interesting subject once you get into it - I used to love using my AI to predict behaviour.
 
It is scarily good in the west too. However, as in most things the dinosaurs doing official procurement are well behind the curve. Whereas in the private sector they are grabbing onto it for security monitoring and retail intelligence.

If you want to see the best of the best in use in the west go have a look at the systems used by the casinos in Vegas who spend a fortune on making sure that their money is safe.

I have seen systems developed to track multiple individual customers in shopping malls in the UK..........really?........yes really. Systems are pretty good at facial recognition although gait analysis is supposedly a better way of tracking individuals at distance. The other method used for individual tracking is to lock onto an individuals mobile phone and use that to track their movements within the location. Using multiple sensors allows accurate tracking of individuals once their phone is locked on to. Retail wise it is used to track shoppers pathways around malls/shopping centres, time spent at given locations and interaction with other shoppers.

I always wondered what might happen if the big children managed to convince the corporations to allow them real time access to their systems.
Imaging is being coupled with AI here to read micro expressions on customers. A Chinese financial services company that I work with no longer needs a loan application to be made in person. It is done via webcam, either from home/office or in branch (many of which have very few, or even no, staff on hand). The AI reads micro expressions to determine whether or not an applicant is telling the truth about their personal circumstances etc.
 
The answer is no, it is not a good thing. I am a freeborn Englishman and entitled to go about my business in this country without being bloody filmed all the time. The government already has a ropey record of acquiring and retaining data. For the cost of this harebrained scheme, Bozza could get his extra coppers with more to spare.
If you are detained by the police do you tell them that you are a 'freeman on the land' and that any laws to whcih you do not consent simply don't apply?
 
"Assume there are 60 million people in the UK and 10,000 true suspects. Using your 80% accurate image screening test "

If only the field tests could reach even that abysmal level of accuracy.. so far the Met's tests are turning in a false result over 99% of the time...
There's a mathematical difference between using facial recognition technology for something like biometric phone unlocking, and using it for general surveillance. The problem is in trying to match a very large number of profiles against a very small number of targets. Even with a very high degree of accuracy in terms of the technology will result in a very high level of false positives.

As an analogy, consider the "Birthday Paradox". There are 365 days in a year (we'll ignore leap year). In a room full of people, what is the probability that two people will have the same birthday. It's a lot higher than you may think. For example, with just 70 people, there is a 99.9% chance that two of them have the same birthday. With 23 people there is a 50% chance that two of them have the same birthday. The mathematics of it is explained in the following link, but essentially what is happening is that the probability of a match goes up exponentially with the number of people in the group being compared.

Now the facial recognition mathematics isn't exactly the same as the Birthday Paradox, but the principle is similar.

Consider the following. If your phone uses facial recognition, the problem it is being presented with is does your face match, within a certain tolerance, a sample which the phone has on record. The phone is trying to see that one target matches one sample. The probability of getting it right is pretty good. If it fails, then it just falls back on requesting a password.

On the other hand consider a mass surveillance system. It is comparing your face with say 100,000 records of suspects. What are the chances that your face will match, within a certain tolerance, at least one of those records? The chances are pretty high. Now repeat that with millions of comparisons being done each day and it is easy to see why the odds are against getting it right.

To turn that around and look at it from another angle, suppose you only wanted to find one suspect? Again, compare that one suspect against millions of face impressions each day and you will also get loads of false matches. A 99% "success" rate doesn't sound all that impressive if you are comparing against 50 million people each being viewed through scores of cameras each day. The number of successful matches will probably be not much better than simply arbitrarily arresting people at random.


Now consider the circumstances under which the police might wish to make use of a mass surveillance facial recognition system. We can be pretty sure that they aren't going to want to use it if it makes more work for themselves or increases manpower requirements. It will instead be used to micro-manage police resources and removing discretion from a large proportion of police constables in favour of what we might call "assembly line justice".

How it could be used is that when the surveillance system thinks it sees a suspect it simply sends a message to the nearest plod telling them to nick the person shown in this photograph who is currently in this location and to haul them in to the nearest police station. You are duly nicked and then get to cool your heels in the holding cell for about 20 hours or so waiting your turn to be brought up to the desk where you can be offered the opportunity to try to prove that you aren't the person the surveillance system thought you were. Yes you got let go eventually, but you've had a miserable day and it's been the 5th time they've done that this year.


That's not to say there are no roles in which facial recognition would be useful. However, if used for mass surveillance of society the mathematics are against it.
 
Maybe councils should just let people send their sprogs to whatever school they like then
Oh if life was that simple

How do you manage the parents expectations when the school of choice is over-subscribed? How do you manage who goes and who doesn't?

Usual deciding factors are:
Siblings at same school
Catchment area
Religious belief

If School A is over-subscribed (good reputation & grades and an OFSTED Outstanding rating) and School B (shithole sink estate Comp with low pass grades) is under-subscribed, how do you decide to even the balance?
 

NSP

LE
Look at China to see how a police state uses facial recognition against the proles, it's not very pleasant
Does it work in China? Someone once told me that they all look the same...
 
Oh if life was that simple

How do you manage the parents expectations when the school of choice is over-subscribed? How do you manage who goes and who doesn't?

Usual deciding factors are:
Siblings at same school
Catchment area
Religious belief

If School A is over-subscribed (good reputation & grades and an OFSTED Outstanding rating) and School B (shithole sink estate Comp with low pass grades) is under-subscribed, how do you decide to even the balance?
Regardless of that, the council were just investigating if someone was bucking the system. I'm sure the outrage bus on here would be at full throttle if someone suspected their sprogs place had been nicked by someone else.
 

Chalkster69

Clanker
I'm more bothered about the data control (or lack thereof) behind all the systems.

They'll be run by the lowest bidders, employing all the petty, small, inflexible people that lost their jobs when Private Parking Enforcement got cracked down on - the same sort of people who issue you with a ticket for throwing a crisp to a seagull.

Good luck disputing the fact that you've never been to Cardiff, let alone mugged 3 old ladies on the High Street there - "Camera doens't lie mate"...
 

joey88

Old-Salt
This is the vehicle South Wales police use for facial recognition purposes. The force was recently challenged in the high court by a resident of Cardiff who stated that the fact his image was captured breached his human rights etc.
The High Court ruled in favour of South Wales Police, I believe that Liberty intend to appeal this decision.
Like it or not this form of monitoring is here to stay.
My particular concern is how heavily the police now rely on CCTV for investigation and old fashioned investigative skills are being forgotten.
I have been retired for a few years now and remember the days before blanket cctv coverage and dna profiling.
You had to engage with the public a lot more carrying out house to house enquiries, getting out onto the street and into pubs etc to speak to people and obtain information that could assist an investigation.
I have first hand experience of being a victim of a minor crime and simply because there was no cctv the case was finalised. It occured in a residential area with plenty of investigative opportunities that were not followed up.
I am not against any of these monitoring systems and have experience where they have been the difference between a guilty plea and a possible not guilty verdict.
On the other hand I dont want it to become another reason for more officers to disappear from our streets.



Screenshot_20190919-093250.png
 
You seem upset that the councils tried to save taxpayers money by going after those who can't obey some basic rules.
@stacker1, you daft head.
I am "mildy concerned" about Facial Recognition technology, and pointed out that some Councils abused Anti Terror laws to monitor "Bin crimes" in the past. I have no problem with councils going after people, but not by using anti terror legislation for minor transgressions.

If you want to see me "upset", tell me there is no Rum left. :eek:
 
So if I decide to walk through town with a shemagh wrapped around my lower face and a baseball cap on. What power does a copper have to make me remove it.

Can he make me remove it just so the camera can catch my image?
 
So if I decide to walk through town with a shemagh wrapped around my lower face and a baseball cap on. What power does a copper have to make me remove it.

Can he make me remove it just so the camera can catch my image?
@Old Stab,
Have a look at Your Rights During Police Trials of Facial Recognition Technology | Netpol

Can I legally cover my face?
The short answer is yes. There are very limited circumstances where the police can insist that you remove a face covering and normally this is in situations where they believe there is a serious risk of violence.

First, senior officers must authorise the power to remove face coverings under Section 60AA of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. If a Section 60AA authorisation has been given, then officers have the power to compel you to remove any item that they reasonably believe you are “wearing wholly or mainly for the purpose of concealing your identity.” An officer can also confiscate the item you are using to cover your face.
 

joey88

Old-Salt
So if I decide to walk through town with a shemagh wrapped around my lower face and a baseball cap on. What power does a copper have to make me remove it.

Can he make me remove it just so the camera can catch my image?
No, the police can not make you remove anything covering your face for the purpose of facial recognition. However there is a power under section 60 of the Criminal Justice and public order act. When this power is authorised under specific circumstances an officer can instruct a person to remove face coverings they are wearing in order to conceal their identity. Failure to comply is an offence.
 

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