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Public Facial Recognition Is Making Gains In Surveillance

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the I-see-you dept.

Privacy 128

dryriver writes in with a link to a Times story about the U.S. government's capabilities when it comes to facial recognition. "The federal government is making progress on developing a surveillance system that would pair computers with video cameras to scan crowds and automatically identify people by their faces, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with researchers working on the project. The Department of Homeland Security tested a crowd-scanning project called the Biometric Optical Surveillance System — or BOSS — last fall after two years of government-financed development. Although the system is not ready for use, researchers say they are making significant advances. That alarms privacy advocates, who say that now is the time for the government to establish oversight rules and limits on how it will someday be used. There have been stabs for over a decade at building a system that would help match faces in a crowd with names on a watch list — whether in searching for terrorism suspects at high-profile events like a presidential inaugural parade, looking for criminal fugitives in places like Times Square or identifying card cheats in crowded casinos."

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128 comments

Old News (3, Funny)

Oysterville (2944937) | about a year ago | (#44639655)

CTU showed this technology like two years ago. Even works on vending machine reflections.

Meet the new BOSS (2)

Cryacin (657549) | about a year ago | (#44639803)

Now 30% better at facial recognition than the old BOSS.

Re:Meet the new BOSS (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640391)

A perfect acronym for a system which may cause violence, delusions and death within 3 to 5 years [imdb.com] .

Re:Old News (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640117)

Finding terrorists... LIKE A BOSS!

Re:Old News - Us too Story (3, Interesting)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | about a year ago | (#44640225)

CTU showed this technology like two years ago. Even works on vending machine reflections.

Yes it is old inconsequential news but that is a feature not a bug. The Times really really really needed a security surveillance state "story" to try and keep itself semi relevant in the eyes of their readers but at the same time not bite the hand that feeds them (i.e. more than a cosy relationship [theguardian.com] with the goverment).

Re:Old News (4, Informative)

rapiddescent (572442) | about a year ago | (#44640261)

even older news! I saw the anglo-dutch company Logica demonstrate this [logica.co.uk] at a PSV Eindhoven football (soccer) match where it picked a dozen volunteers (who were photo'd before the match) out of the 20,000 strong crowd using the stadiums own crappy cctv footage - this was in the early to mid 2000's. It wasn't perfect but was above 90%.

Sadly, the UK is way ahead when it comes to CCTV technology.

Re: Old News (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640487)

Sadly?

Re: Old News (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about a year ago | (#44640549)

Yes there is no benefit to mankind when this tech is repurposed and turned against innocent people.

Re: Old News (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640935)

Sadly, this is the same softwater that puts yellow-stars on people.....

Re:Old News (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640517)

It's a big difference searching through a database of 9 faces than through a database of millions.

Re:Old News (1)

rapiddescent (572442) | about a year ago | (#44640745)

It's a big difference searching through a database of 9 faces than through a database of millions.

luckily computing power and searching ability has increased a little bit in the last decade. Sure, the pilot programme was able to take clear photos of the football fans as they went in (I seem to remember the volunteers were given free stuff as an incentive). In 2005, the London Underground tried out the technology with not great results [securityinfowatch.com] but that was an awfully long time ago.

Re:Old News (2)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#44641331)

I imagine coupling even barely adequate facial recognition with ubiquitous surveillance and coherent location tracking would get some pretty accurate results. How often do two "lookalikes" pass close enough to each other to cause tracking confusion? More importantly, how often do you pass near a lookalike when neither of you is carrying a cell phone whose location data can be easily used to retroactively resolve any confusion once you part ways?

I'm not sure "luckily" is the word I'd be using though.

Re:Old News (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44641745)

Sure, the pilot programme was able to take clear photos of the football fans as they went in (I seem to remember the volunteers were given free stuff as an incentive).

There's a story about the military trying out a 'tank recognition' program- it would scan arial photos and try to find camouflaged tanks. Seemed to work fine at first, then utterly failed when tested. Turns out that in the sample photos they fed it, all the pictures with tanks in them were taken on sunny days, and all the non-tank photos were taken on cloudy days- the system 'learned' to tell pics of sunny days from pics of cloudy days instead of pic with tanks from pics without tanks.

Point is, what 'free stuff' were they given? If they were given, say, a pink hat, then the system may just have 'found' all the people wearing a pink hat. No facial recognition needed. Or, more sneaky, the system may have only searched the faces it found near a pink hat, to narrow the search.

You mean like this? (4, Informative)

mveloso (325617) | about a year ago | (#44639671)

I think the article and DHS are a few years behind the curve on this. See these guys:

http://www.nicta.com.au/media/previous_releases3/2012_media_releases/australian_face_recognition_technology_wins_major_international_ict_award [nicta.com.au]

Also, there are a couple of live systems out there that I've heard about in airports. They could add facial recognition, but mainly they're used for object detection.

Re:You mean like this? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#44640377)

Your link doesn't seem to have any stats on accuracy. If you are going to scan hundreds of millions of faces a day in poor lighting from odd angles your algo better be 99.99999% accurate, or expect a lot of false positives.

Re:You mean like this? (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about a year ago | (#44640553)

"They" are killing innocent people now. This way "they" can say the software told them it was ok.

Re:You mean like this? (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about a year ago | (#44641299)

Yes, this.

Enforcers have been dreaming of facial recognition good enough to match faces from a database of millions to faces in crowds scarcely smaller. Every time there's been improvement in facial recognition, they're eager to try to scale up massively. They don't seem to appreciate how good the facial recognition has to be to avoid thousands of false positives. I don't know where facial recognition is now, but 6 years ago, 90% accuracy was the best I'd heard of, and the method was that good only with lots of outside help to remove variations in lighting, viewing angle, facial expression, and so on. No one was anywhere close to 99%, let alone 99.99999%.

Also, lot of the news about facial recognition has been overhyped. Companies always try to make their products sound better than they really are. The media is also eager to report on the next big breakthrough, and is prone to reading far too much into research results.

Treat this news with healthy skepiticism.

false positive/negative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44641769)

I would say, having had discussions with folks who are funding this kind of work, that they are quite aware of the scalability problems, and the "registration/enrollment" problems. There's a couple factors at work which are obvious to those in the business, but not necessarily to the reporters or public at large..
1) Government agencies spend a fair amount of money on speculative research that never goes anywhere practical. A $50k grant to a university to work on facial recognition algorithms feeds a couple grad students for a year, and it might come up with something useful. In the over all context of millions of dollars/day spent on various operations, this is small potatos (in the noise floor of the overall budget). Just because they're paying for research, and because the super optimistic researchers can come up with potential usage scenarios, does not mean that they're getting ready to roll it out next year nationwide. Abetting the hype is the university technology licensing folks. They see "hmm, 5 billion people in the world who could be indexed, maybe someone will buy the technology from us, and pay us a dollar per user as a royalty. Yeah, lets use that as an estimate"
2) Congress gets involved too. Not just with earmarks ("The DHS shall develop a biometric recognition capability using the Framostat algorithm", when Dr. Framostat happens to be in Congressman Smith's district) but just with the whole "Oooh disaster, *something* must be done." I think that's where a lot of the security theater at airports comes from. Government agency head gets hauled up in front of a subcommittee on the hill and asked "What are YOU doing to prevent a recurrence of shoe bombers?", and they say, "Why Senator, we have instituted new policies and procedures designed to detect shoes, bombs, bombs within shoes, and shoes within bombs. We have 3 research projects in progress to improve shoe bomb detectors. And we are procuring 3 different shoe bomb detectors from the leading companies in the field, which we will install at all airports as soon as possible." What you don't hear in the testimony is the discussion at the office "Ok, all these machines are PoS, but we have to do something, so which ones should we buy"

It is widely acknowledged that if you were to propose, today, a system where peoples' fingerprints are recorded and stored in a national database, it would never get implemented. And fingerprints are pretty unique as a biometric identifier. Unlike all the other ones (iris, retina, finger length, signature motion dynamics, etc.etc.etc) it's stable throughout someone's life (you might lose your fingerprints, but they don't change). The arguing about fingerprints is more about how fast can you do a comparison, how can you compress the database, and what is defined as a "match" on partial fingerprints. Where you are looking at "good" prints and comparing them (say, you've got two fingerprint cards in front of you with complete sets), I doubt there's much argument about the incredibly low false positive/false negative rates. Compress those fingerprints to a 32 or 64 byte "feature space" or try to match a corner of a print on a rear view mirror to one of 100 million prints on file, that's a different matter.

Realistically, what you want in a facial recognition system is "ok" accuracy that you then combine with other data to figure out what you need to know. It is a pipe dream of "detecting terrorists walking into the super bowl".. that's a nice use case, and easy to describe and conceptualize, but unlikely to ever occur in real life: it's too easy to beat, for one thing.

OTOH, "flagging people walking into passport control" is a heck of a lot more practical, and useful. Constrained activity, already a presumption that you're going to be talking to them. It's a potential labor and time saver. Oh, we see John Smith on the passenger list, we see that John Smith's passport was presented at departure, we recognize John Smith's face at the kiosk in the exit ramp, so send him to the "cursory check line". Oh, what's this, there's 5 people out of 200 that we don't recognize? Send them to the "someone needs to ask them some questions" line. Ditto for the "Bob Jones checked in, and the guy with Bob's passport doesn't look like Bob to the machine".. send him to the human who wlll say "Hello Mr. Jones, it looks like you shaved your beard when you were on vacation. Welcome home. What are you bringing back into the country?"

Working for the government (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44639679)

It's just a shame that these otherwise bright individuals choose to advance technology for the government in ways that move us ever closer to a police state... But then again, it's going to happen eventually, and what we really need is to stop the government from using it.

Re:Working for the government (3, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | about a year ago | (#44640067)

They are not doing this for the gov't. Big business simply must have this, to be able to present the right ad to you as you walk by any given billboard/sign/shop, because you might not have your cell phone with you [or horrors, you might not have one].

Re:Working for the government (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#44640551)

If you're not constantly typing on a cellphone in your waking hours while saying "OMG!" out loud, you're probably not in their demographic...

Re:Working for the government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640585)

They're doing it for both... The government and corporations want to violate your rights, and they're working side-by-side on some issues to do just that.

Re:Working for the government (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#44641451)

There's a long historical precedent of "wizards" hooking their cart to one king or another. If it's a bad king that may suck for everyone else, but it tends to go pretty well for the wizard.

As far as stopping the government from using it - I'm not sure that's realistically possible. Sure, we could pass all sorts of laws about it, maybe slow things down by a few decades, but cameras are getting ever smaller and cheaper, and *someone* will be collecting and collating the data. That someone will then have all sorts of leverage on any government official who isn't squeaky clean to begin with, which will make the "shadowy NGO" the de-facto government.

The best option I can see at this point is to do everything we can to make sure our "masters" are under at least as much scrutiny by the public as they inflict upon us. Personally I'd be in favor of having something like Google Glass surgically attached to anyone elected or appointed to a significant government position, with 24/7 public streaming* for as long as they hold the office. With great power comes total lack of privacy.

*inserting a delay of at least several hours in the stream would neatly sidestep any risks to their personal security.

Mask, anyone. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44639687)

So now people will use the material printers to print a random mask before going out.

Re:Mask, anyone. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640361)

Or you could rent a set of Jim Carey or Marcel Marceau videos and practice facial contortions. I imagine it's not out of the question that one might be able to defeat this software with the right training.

Re:Mask, anyone. (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#44641551)

I doubt it. I believe most modern facial recognition focuses on unalterable skeletal characteristics. Inter-occular distance. Cheekbone position, etc. A good makeup artist/ultra-realistic mask can conceivably alter many of those things, but if your own skin/skeletal structure is visible you're sunk.

Figure that Carey can do some pretty crazy contortions, but you can still easily tell it's him. Computer facial recognition leans heavily on everything we've been able to learn about how we recognize faces, and couples it with measurements far more precise than the human visual system can perform.

Lucky for me... (3, Funny)

jamstar7 (694492) | about a year ago | (#44639703)

I bought a Guy Fawkes mask...

Re:Lucky for me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44639753)

Screw that, I need a scramble suit.

Re:Lucky for me... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640041)

I'll go with blank face [whatheck.com] .

Re:Lucky for me... (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about a year ago | (#44640555)

Thats awesome. I'm going to be sad when I find out it for a coke ad or something.

Re:Lucky for me... (1)

Bucc5062 (856482) | about a year ago | (#44641137)

"FACELESS ALIENS SPOTTED AT HIGH PROFILE EVENTS"

Clearly it was not the lack of eyes, nose and mouth, but the dark suits that made them stand out. To me, they looked like normal government agents whom are trained to have the people not pay attention to their features. This way they later cannot be identified in any court room.

Re:Lucky for me... (2)

jmhobrien (2750125) | about a year ago | (#44640033)

A reactive approach screws everyone. This needs to be prevented before resources are unneccessarily wasted and the tentacles of BigGov extend any further.
It is better to win without fighting - Sun Tzu.

Re:Lucky for me... (5, Interesting)

shvytejimas (1083291) | about a year ago | (#44640063)

Wearing a mask is rather blunt. I think surveillance evading camouflage make-up [cvdazzle.com] instead will turn out to be a fashion trend during the next decade.

As with any trend, only a handful of people would dare walk around looking like that at first - privacy supporters, activists, etc. - and they would stand out in the crowd. But the idea of camouflage might catch on as more people opted-in (some because of privacy concerns, others because it just looks cool and futuristic). Kind of like torn jeans and facial piercings from punk - they used to look shocking to some a while back, but nowadays are completely mainstream and disconnected from the originating subculture.

Re:Lucky for me... (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#44640221)

Or you could just be like Hi and put a panty on your head.

Re:Lucky for me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640335)

Why stop there? Put the panties on over the Guy Fawkes mask and walk backwards through the observation point, waving good-bye. Oh, and don't forget to wear your Quasi Moto hump-brace combination to change your body's alignment and orthopedic shoes to modify your gait.

Re:Lucky for me... (1)

Inda (580031) | about a year ago | (#44640681)

I've looked at this theory before. I even go as far as to grayscale my face and enlarge the eyes on the only single profile photo of me on the internet.

The algorithms will adapt. They'll stop looking for eyes and other facial features. They'll start looking for face paint.

Re:Lucky for me... (1)

SGT CAPSLOCK (2895395) | about a year ago | (#44640217)

I don't think it matters so much what attire The Resistance wears; it just matters that it will exist.

Re:Lucky for me... (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#44640381)

Nixon mask might be more appropriate.

The most amusing thing that I see in this: (4, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about a year ago | (#44639705)

I find it so ironic that it's cute and I just want to give it a big cuddle...

That alarms privacy advocates, who say that now is the time for the government to establish oversight rules and limits on how it will someday be used.

Are these privacy advocates aware that the folks who want this most are the government that they are going to ask to curtail the ability to do it? It's like asking the playground bully to ask for permission to steal your lunch money...

Re:The most amusing thing that I see in this: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44639913)

Wait till they abuse this system, this with documentation from your background, fingerprints, DNA, medical records, the affordable health care act will have that in there systems, or this will take place this after your birth.

Freedom is truly dead, smart TVs, smart houses, offices, streets, cameras placed everywhere maybe even in planted in your own brain, and if you piss on your toilet seat you will be arrested for vandalism.

Re:The most amusing thing that I see in this: (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year ago | (#44640321)

Are these privacy advocates aware that the folks who want this most are the government that they are going to ask to curtail the ability to do it? It's like asking the playground bully to ask for permission to steal your lunch money...

"The government" is not monolithic. It may not be perfectly representative but that is the goal.

Re:The most amusing thing that I see in this: (1)

Threni (635302) | about a year ago | (#44641279)

> It may not be perfectly representative but that is the goal.

It most certainly is not.

Re:The most amusing thing that I see in this: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44641611)

All "government oversight" means is that people with money & power will do whatever the hell they want, but that there will be an official-looking apparatus to deny that they are doing so.

If it is technically possible it is being done. If you are a member of the general public, and you are reading about it on the internet, you are among the last to know and it has been being done for a decade or more on a massive scale.

same as it ever was.

If that is the way things are going (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44639707)

It is time to start thinking about wearing a hat. Broad brim will cover most of the face as cameras are usually high so they point down on people.

Re:If that is the way things are going (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#44639805)

I think bright IR-Leds should do the trick, too. Provided a lot of people are wearing them, of course.

Re:If that is the way things are going (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44639841)

Assuming they are using black and white camera's without IR filters, sure, that might work. If enough people are wearing them though, they will use cameras that handle it. If your camera doesn't have too bad of leakage problems between pixels, a little extra dynamic range would make such lights help ID people rather than protect them, especially in the dark. Or you could just use a filter if there is enough other light.

Re:If that is the way things are going (1)

Full of shit (2908417) | about a year ago | (#44639947)

Expect wide-brimmed hats to increase in popularity too.
Also, you know those paranoid Asians who wear surgical masks while out and about? Well they don't look so paranoid now, do they?

Yes, because... (0)

surfdaddy (930829) | about a year ago | (#44639713)

...being in public is one of the final Fucking places we aren't under surveillance. We can't let THAT happen.

Re:Yes, because... (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#44639821)

Usually, we're not. No, really. Yes, everyone can see you. But the expense of doing it to everyone is so prohibitive that, at least so far, law enforcement limited it to people where they had reason to do it. As they should.

With this, it becomes trivial to do it to everyone. We have a hunch that X might have done something illegal, let's trace back his last 2 months. And it's a rather small step from "we think he did something illegal" to "he annoyed someone in power, let's find something illegal".

Other potential uses.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44639737)

whether in searching for terrorism suspects at high-profile events like a presidential inaugural parade, looking for criminal fugitives in places like Times Square or identifying card cheats in crowded casinos

Or just recording where everyone goes and storing it for 5 years in case they need it.

Re:Other potential uses.. (5, Insightful)

pitchpipe (708843) | about a year ago | (#44639837)

whether in searching for terrorism suspects at high-profile events like a presidential inaugural parade, looking for criminal fugitives in places like Times Square or identifying card cheats in crowded casinos

Or just recording where everyone goes and storing it for 5 years in case they need it.

It'll just be "metadata". They won't be able to see what you're actually thinking, so that'll make it okay. At least until the next scumbag America-hater comes along and exposes how they were lying to us and spying on us for our freedom, cuz yanno, the terrorists hate our freedom.

Er, 9/11 and stuff. LOOK! BOMBS and BAD GUYS!

Here's a kitten.

Re:Other potential uses.. (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#44640025)

Er, 9/11 and stuff. LOOK! BOMBS and BAD GUYS!

It's actually fascinating how completely Obama copied this strategy from Bush. I kind of figured it would stop working 12 years later.

Re:Other potential uses.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640451)

Yeah, it was Obama, all by himself, and Bush originated the the very first FUD strategy. The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 were never enacted, nor was any of it kept on as 50 USC sections 21-24 [cornell.edu] . Oh, and lest we not forget, Paul Wolfowitz never wrote a white paper known as the Defense Policy Guidance, [nytimes.com] and it was never published by the NY Times, not even on March 8, 1992.

Re:Other potential uses.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640047)

Who started the lie that they hate Americans for their freedoms? The hate America because of its continued interference in their countries.

Re:Other potential uses.. (1)

phayes (202222) | about a year ago | (#44640359)

That would be one of you anonymous coward bastards who like to whine but are too karma banned from their constant trolling to use their account to post stuff. AQ as radical Muslims, hate anyone who is not a radical Muslim. The fact that that coincides with the western democracies is an accident. Were we to disappear in a puff of smoke, they would merely turn to the next most predominate political system to hate.

Re:Other potential uses.. (4, Insightful)

erikkemperman (252014) | about a year ago | (#44640703)

AQ as radical Muslims, hate anyone who is not a radical Muslim.

That might be true for the hard core, for the ideologues. But AQ would have a hell of a hard time recruiting their footsoldiers if they did not have the (valid, as in factually true) argument that the US (and other Western powers, but almost always at US direction) are propping up the dictators who repress them and their families.

Which has been true for decades. That it is not widely known, or accepted, inside the US might be because this doesn't really fit well with the narrative that the States are, as a matter of definition, the Good Guys and endeavour to spread democracy, and all that. So it gets ignored or glossed over by the mainstream media. Media that, compared to global standards, spend astonishingly little time on "foreign news", anyway.

Re: Other potential uses.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640881)

Yeah, I love the "they hate us for our freedoms" crap. First off, there's nothing left to hate thanks to the worst, most easily manipulated president in US history and his do nothing about it successor.

Second, most people just don't hate people in places they've never been and who they don't encounter on a routine basis. It just isn't human nature. Therefore, they must have a reason. That the reason (foreign intervention in the name of corporate profits) is barely mentioned ever in the US press doesn't make it less true.

So you have people all over the world who can't stand us, and most people at home not having a clue why. Just like overly religious people, most Americans seem to want to not believe evidence of this when it is shown to them anyway. This is a dangerous situation.

Re: Other potential uses.. (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#44641721)

Wanting to not believe something like that it is perfectly understandable. Failing to adapt those beliefs when confronted with evidence is willful blindness. That's officially grounds for criminal culpability in US courts. It's the difference between the Deist who believes in God without solid evidence, and the young-Earth creationist who holds their beliefs *despite* the evidence.

Re:Other potential uses.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640945)

in the UK, the data retention rules are being/have been changed. some data is retained for 100 years!.

Re:Other potential uses.. (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44641689)

Not just storing. You can be assured they won't leave it to simply that.

Time for the face masks in public (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44639751)

If the government is going to keep taking away constitutional rights then it is time for me to go into public in clothing covering my entire body and with a face mask on and something covering my eyes. I just won't believe there is ANY reason to take away someone's right to privacy on the off chance you might catch one bad person in scanning through 50 million. If that is true then we should put this system into the pentagon and white house, it will find criminals every second of the day.

Re:Time for the face masks in public (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640105)

...it is time for me to go into public in clothing covering my entire body and with a face mask on and something covering my eyes...

Better not, they might shoot you as a terrorist.

Propaganda Piece (1)

cartel1982 (2955737) | about a year ago | (#44639791)

This article is nothing but propaganda B.S. made to make you think they don't already have this shit deployed.

*sigh* (1)

msobkow (48369) | about a year ago | (#44639843)

William Gibson's writing seems to be coming closer to reality every day. Unfortunately.

Because the technology will be abused. No doubt of it.

Re:*sigh* (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44642059)

Along with Stephenson's. Every time I read about Bitcoin, I end up thinking about a datacenter in Kinakuta...

Time for everybody to start wearing hijab. (-1, Flamebait)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about a year ago | (#44639883)

After all, wearing a mask of the president might get you accused of racisim.

Re:Time for everybody to start wearing hijab. (1)

jamesh (87723) | about a year ago | (#44640115)

After all, wearing a mask of the president might get you accused of racisim.

I think the facial recognition would probably still work on a typical hijab (outfit covering head and chest, but not necessarily the face), maybe you meant burqa or niqab. In any case, if someone questions your wearing of it they get accused of racism instead.

Re:Time for everybody to start wearing hijab. (1)

phayes (202222) | about a year ago | (#44640393)

Except in France where the wearing of fully obscuring vestments in many public situations has been outlawed in the name of women's rights & public security.

Re:Time for everybody to start wearing hijab. (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#44640631)

Iris scan technology is good enough to identify people at quite a long distance these days as well. Even a garment with only the eyes exposed won't help.

Re:Time for everybody to start wearing hijab. (1)

jamesh (87723) | about a year ago | (#44640883)

Iris scan technology is good enough to identify people at quite a long distance these days as well. Even a garment with only the eyes exposed won't help.

Fine then, burqa + highly reflective sunglasses.

OR (1)

Progman3K (515744) | about a year ago | (#44639893)

... or to sell any information they have on you to the highest bidder

I'll believe it when I see it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44639895)

Source FOIA document referenced from TFA provides no useful information.

Facial recognition is currently little more than a toy. Sure demos seem to work except in reality there is a huge difference between finding a match to a single face in a crowd and finding matches to a lot of faces in a crowd.

Recognition outcomes get progressivly worse as you add more candidates to the list.

I'm sure with enough time and effort the picture can be improved somewhat however there does not seem to be any actual information to support such an improvement having actually taken place.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44640173)

Facial recognition with good images works just fine on a database population the size of the USA.
Costs and speeds from the 1990s are not the issue as the measurement math is very simple and very fast per face.
The only past limit was legal national/state database image sharing.
You just need to get an image at the right height ie cameras on a road side checkpoints covering average passenger and driver car/truck/van face heights.
Local Feature Analysis ~ 80 points on a face, 14-22 nodal points, in 2000 you could get searching at ~ 60 million faces a minute for a few $10 million in grants.
Trying to rebuild a face only seen from one side over a few fames is harder but will soon be done with very complex 3d work.
eg "Although the technology is capable of scanning approximately seventy million images per minute,.... " http://digitalcommons.law.villanova.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1336&context=vlr [villanova.edu]

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

Ken D (100098) | about a year ago | (#44641003)

Remember the Boston marathon bombing.

They had several specific pictures of the suspects and the quality seemed pretty good.
They had the guy's photo in their system due to a prior terrorism related investigation.
They had several days to match the photos, i.e. not in real time

They failed.

BOSS = Bush/Obama Surveillance State (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640007)

BOSS = Bush/Obama Surveillance State

Re:BOSS = Bush/Obama Surveillance State (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640249)

I think someone should sue them for trademark violation. [wikipedia.org]

Captcha: rivalry

Xbox One does ultimate 'crowd' face recognition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640029)

Bill Gates has worked with the NSA to give the Xbox One a primary ability to implement facial recognition on the entire 'crowd' of people present in the same room as the console for EVERY console currently powered and connected to the Kinect spy sensor block. In fairness, the Xbox One merely uses its movement tracking depth sensor and high definition camera to identify each different Human in the room, and sends 'headshot' photos to NSA servers via the cloud connection, so the NSA can attempt to do the facial recognition their end.

Imagine this. Millions of Xbox One consoles will, every day, monitor, record and transmit data to the NSA in an experimental attempt to track as many occupants of as many homes as possible. It is an expansion of NSA spying powers into the one place they never before were able to consistently enter- people's own homes. Of course, the dispersed 'crowd' of people in the vicinity of Microsoft's NSA spy boxes have their unique geographic locations known by the NSA, helping immensely with the ability of the NSA to assign names to faces.

Microsoft had already seeded technical sites with 'plausible deniability' over the issue- namely that Microsoft patents described Xbox One spying of room occupants for the purpose of limiting the number of viewers of a DRM protected video stream, or the purpose of presenting 'targeted' ads to named individuals currently present in the same room. These pre-announced 'commercial' outrages were to be the excuse MS shills would use to explain the pattern of always on spying that researchers and hackers would discover when they examined the operation of actual Xbox One consoles in the home.

Simple tests will show that Kinect is ALWAYS processing data, and that the console consistently sends encrypted data to computers in the cloud. Likewise, tests will show that if disconnected from the Internet for a time, the console streams the same encrypted data to dedicated areas of the included HDD, data that is later uploaded when the connection is restored. How would Microsoft explain this. As I said, their cover story will be the afore mentioned patents describing spying on room occupants for 'commercial' reasons.

If you find the actions of the NSA, Obama administration, and Microsoft to be evil and against the interests of ordinary citizens, then work to ensure Bill Gates gets as little of your business as possible, and if you need to buy a next-gen console, you choose the vastly more powerful (and cheaper) PS4. Also take some time to Google inBloom and the database service they provide intended to spy on every child - a service created by Gates in partnership with Rupert Murdoch (yes, the Fox News guy). Don't do the NSA's work for them, and don't pay to bring NSA spy equipment into your own homes. Ensure your school district rejects Gates' despicable attempt to spy on your children via inBloom.

So they're building a system to BOSS us around (1)

he-sk (103163) | about a year ago | (#44640049)

You know you lost the war when the surveillance isn't subtle anymore.

"If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."

Excuse me, I'm gonna huddle in a corner and cry...

Oh just stop it! (5, Insightful)

GrahamCox (741991) | about a year ago | (#44640093)

Haven't we had enough of this shit yet? Just because something is technically feasible doesn't mean it's inevitable. If you're an engineer or developer working on this shit then please, do us all a favour and STOP, NOW. And don't give me any shit about having to earn a crust, etc. that just shows your moral compass needs recalibrating.

Re:Oh just stop it! (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#44640237)

I just assumed the engineers would be H1B status. Not that it should matter as far as moral compass goes, but even that is relative. It'd be a lot easier to build things that fuck over people if you did it away from your home.

I'm not sure humanity's collective moral compass is even able to be recalibrated at this point.

Re:Oh just stop it! (3, Interesting)

terbeaux (2579575) | about a year ago | (#44640281)

Wait, what? Do you honestly believe that if an incentive is there that sentient organisms will not reach for it? I have a strong moral compass but that doesn't change the fact that you need to stop whatever the fuck you are doing right now to help us reengineer "the game" in order to reward people that do good while doing well. Aside from NWO fantasies, all the assholes that have money right now are extremely interested in keeping it, at all costs. This includes your family's ability to be healthful or be educated to a basic level. I think it was Peter Drucker that said "If you can't measure it, then you can't manage it." They are fucking managing you. How does it feel?

Re:Oh just stop it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640435)

The best atomic scientists fled Germany; but the non-atomic scientists that stayed behind still caused plenty of problems. A post like yours... says nothing to those who already think like you do, and nothing to those who will not hear you. Or, as I learned in Bible class, "they will not believe you, even if you rise from the dead".

Pissing into the wind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640975)

Telling government to stop finding new justifications for spending is like telling walmart to stop assimilating every small town in the country. As long as they benefit (financially) from it, they will continue to do it. No amount of logic or protest will ever stop it.

That is because the people who run the business of government are driven by profit. There is no solution to this, except to limit the scope of government (which, as history shows, is next to impossible).

Re:Oh just stop it! (1)

Threni (635302) | about a year ago | (#44641239)

> Haven't we had enough of this shit yet? Just because something is technically
> feasible doesn't mean it's inevitable

If, by throwing money at a problem, one can find a solution which stifles dissent against the ruling classes then you are wrong - it IS inevitable. There is *nothing* which is not an option for investigation and ultimately deployment. There'll be rules limiting this or that usage, and those rules will be ignored, and there's nothing you can do about it whilst the current methodology for running a country exists.

They don't need to stop (1)

davecb (6526) | about a year ago | (#44641285)

The German security service tested an older but still good version from Siemens (my employer) years ago, and stopped as soon as they discovered that the "birthday paradox" made it totally unsuitable for large-scale use.

If you scan for one particular person out of thousands in an airline terminal, you get a certain small number of false positives, so it sorta works for that case. If, however, you search for the entire Baader-Meinhoff gang and all the other terrorists of the day in the same terminal, you get an insane number of false positives, because you're doing (N*M)! comparisons, each with a small chance of a false positive.

This is the same thing that causes the "birthday paradox", where you get a 50% probability of two people at a party having the same birthday when you have only 23 people present. One would normally expect it to take 367 people, but you're actually comparing (23 * 22) people, not (1 * 23)...

There has been some good work done with the technology, and the Ontario Privacy Commissioner has successfully used it to identify small numbers of self-selected problem gamblers at casinos, but until the technology literally becomes perfect, it will fail by creating false positives for any N * M problem where both N and M are large.

The German BND took one look at the in-the-large problem and said "No thanks, that will have us arresting my grandma as a Baader-Meinhoff member, and she'd never forgive me".

--dave

Re:Oh just stop it! (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#44641555)

I hope people do develop it and make it public domain. It's inevitable, so we might as well arm ourselves with the same tech. Imagine being able to automatically scan footage of cops and do facial recognition.

Re:Oh just stop it! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44641627)

While the only way this will stop is if no one will work on it, believing that no one will work on it is ridiculous. The software to do this sort of thing will be developed whether the goal is secrecy or not; robots need to be able to do face recognition to be able to work with humans in a human way, which is a common goal. Complaining of people developing the technology is therefore nothing more or less than a waste of time and emotional involvement. You should instead complain about the trends in society which cause the technology to be misused.

Seems to me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640099)

It increasingly looks like the government, any government, cannot be trusted to oversee itself. Something about computerised toys that makes them completely lose any and all self-restraint. I don't know what to do about it, but if we'd like to have a viable society, to keep one down the road, we can't afford to keep this kind of "governing" around.

For what it's worth (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#44640113)

This will be one of the first apps on Google Glass. It will be halting and clumsy at first, but it will get better and your view will just auto-pull up names of anybody you look at if you desire.

Nothing to do but listen to Tom Petty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640149)

Before all of this ever went down
In another place, another town
You were just a face in the crowd
You were just a face in the crowd
Out in the street walking around
A face in the crowd

Out of a dream, out of the sky
Into my heart, into my life
And you were just a face in the crowd
You were just a face in the crowd
Out in the street, thinking out loud
A face in the crowd

Out of a dream, out of the sky
Into my heart, into my life
And you were just a face in the crowd
You were just a face in the crowd
Out in the street, walking around
A face in the crowd

Face in the crowd
A face in the crowd
A face in the crowd

c0m (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640203)

ever7day...:We [goat.cx]

How can anything so (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640273)

Negative be making gains anywhere?

What BS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640329)

What they are making gains on is our tax dollars! It only works if you

1. Stand still.
2. Have a blank look on your face.
3. Don't do anything to change your facial characteristics.

IE, it only works on DHS employees...

"Card cheats" (1)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | about a year ago | (#44640489)

or identifying card cheats in crowded casinos

Casino card cheat definition: Anyone who is good at cards and causes the house to lose.

All kinds of gains (1)

DJRikki (646184) | about a year ago | (#44640535)

... obligatory Hodgetwins reference - bitches.

BOSS Bad? No! BOSS Can Help! (3, Insightful)

korbulon (2792438) | about a year ago | (#44640603)

What if you're at the amusement park and your child gets lost in the crowd and is nowhere to be found? BOSS can help!

What if you have Alzheimer's and you wander off the reservation? BOSS can help!

What if you suspect your hubby is dipping his stinger in some floozie's honeypot and you need to know? BOSS can help!

Can't stand it when you see people you don't recognize? BOSS can help.

What if you're a humble multinational bank that needs to track down deadbeat student loan defaulters? BOSS can help!

What if you is a notorious drug kingpin and you wants the po-po to hunt down your bitterest of rivals fo sho? BOSS can help!

What if you just don't like it when people look a bit "funny" or "suspicious" or "dark"? BOSS. CAN. HELP.

BOSS. Because you have nothing left to hide.

Completing the fence (1)

marcroelofs (797176) | about a year ago | (#44640793)

The fence that will soon surround the US needed another layer. This is probably it.
This, crossrelated with the limitless collection of metadata in the NSA vaults will make it possible to build patterns of 'normal' behaviour and use those to automatically spot anomalies as soon as they happen.
In a few years, if you even try to prepapre organizing an Occupy-Whatever movement you will be stopped before anyone has heard about you.

Once this is in place NO one will be able to switch it off.

Find that Hot Chick (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44641033)

You are a lonely government employee:
Suppose you see a really hot chick. You see her walk past a camera you know you have access to.
Go back to the office, pull up the photo. Run it against the DMV and get name and address.
Cross it with credit cards, and other camera meta data to locate favorite spots.
Now you can just show up ahead of her and order her favorite drink.
And that guy she was walking with, call 911 to his house (S.W.A.T. him out of the picture)
What could go wrong with thousands of young agents having access to this information?

UH (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44641735)

my iphone can do this.

Remember the old days? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44641789)

You know, the good old days when the Stasi were the bad guys.

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