is Watching You.
South Wales Police deployed facial recognition technology in Cardiff this weekend, making multiple arrests using the controversial kit. The force has been using an automated facial recognition (AFR) system since June last year, when it launched a pilot during the Champions League finals week. In December, the police boasted …
It is now illegal in the UK to hide your face from cameras.
No it isn't. It was, until 1823, when they repealed the Black Act because cameras hadn't been invented yet.
The police can require you to remove a mask using a Section 60 order, but that has to be authorised by an Inspector and applies only to a specific location during a specific timeframe (i.e. to deal with Black Bloc, Hunt Saboteurs, Football Thugs etc). It is not an offence to actually wear a mask, even if you freely admit that your purpose in doing so is to conceal your identity (balaclavas also keep your head warm).
Yeah, the tech is wonderful. Nothing can possibly go wrong. And if it does, the police will obviously admit they were wrong straight away. And would never twice wrongly arrest the same guy based on faulty image recognition
government. Common sense, as well as initiative are immediately shot down by the multiple layers of middle managers.
ANYTHING innovative suggested by "ground floor" staff will either be stolen and presented as their "idea"or lambasted as a "bad" idea if it goes against their status quo. Irrespective of how good an idea it is.
"Well they get paid a lot more than I do. A little common sense isnt too much to ask surely?"
The only cases that make the headlines are the ones where common sense went missing. The other x thousand get no press attention at all.
However the specific problem is that *if* Bloggs goes on to do something naughty then the Daily Mail, Guardian and El Reg readers will all go "why was he allowed out at all when the computer said he should be arrested". And the PC will then go on trial for misconduct in a public office. Or manslaughter if the naughty thing involved someone dying.
So much, much less risk to just make the arrest.
A little common sense isnt too much to ask surely?
The thing about civil service (I use the term broadly) procedures is that they are designed to achieve consistent results. Consistent in that no matter which civil servant (or plod) deals with you, you get the same results. So that if something goes wrong, you complain, the way your case was dealt with is checked against procedures and, in the case of a procedural error, is fixed. Theoretically.
The same process also stifles common sense. Because you may get somebody who uses initiative and gives you a better result than if you'd been dealt with by a different civil servant/plod. Which causes envy and complaints by others. So the common-sensical civil servant/plod is punished for not following procedures.
It's above the pay grade of those in the trenches to question strategy. That might lead people to conclude that the generals are fuckwits.
So yes, common sense is too much to ask.
Hmmm, what's the opposite of /s? I need something to show that although the above may read like it was sarcasm it's actually serious.
Got pulled over here in Massachusetts with ANPR. You can switch plates for up to 7 days onto a car you have just purchased (which is what I had done, and had documents to prove it). But the officer insisted that the plates belonged on a white van. I said that was wrong, never owned a white van, and I had a valid registration document (for my old car) to prove it. The white van was apparently what came up on their display first (here, you can have the same number on different classes of reg -- the white van was apparently a commercial plate).
As I'm white, and middle aged, the officer checked again and discovered that I was telling the truth...they scrolled down, and there it was...
AA mentioned, "...same number on ...a commercial plate..."
Nobody ever noticed that until now?
Nobody ever said, "Oi, we have the same number on different colour plates here. 'Automatic Plate NUMBER Recognition' isn't going to be reliable. We need 'APN and Colour R' here."
Seriously? Is this true?
Surely the policeman will have a look at the 2 pictures himself to see if it is the same person.
Sure, but it is easy to look at a grainy image taken from a completely different vantage than the mugshot in less than ideal lighting with compression artefacts, and conclude that it is indeed he same person as the mugshot. There's also a lot of confirmation bias at work - the officer is expecting a match because the computer says so.
How many time when watching a movie do you immediately notice when the star actor has been replaced by his stunt double?
You may think that it is easy to recognise the same face in two images, but in fact it is incredibly difficult, and easy to make both a false positive and a false negative identification.
"a grainy image taken from a completely different vantage than the mugshot in less than ideal lighting with compression artefacts,"
I dont think this AFR is designed to pull of miracles. If a human cant do it when taking a good look at , I dont expect a Computer to do it when looking at it for 1/10 second amongst half a million other pics.
This isnt CSI bullshit edition.
People seem to think this technology is just pointing at random blurry images having people arre4sted in a completyely automated , no human input way.
Again , even if the pc did pull of a fucking bladerunner - photo extrapolation miracle to turn a pixel into a name - They just go up the guy and say "ID please ..... oh , the computer was wrong , on your way sir."
They dont fkn execute hi, on the spot judge dredd style
Sure, it's a detection method.
But does it constitute evidence? I'm guessing not.
It's no different to, say, pulling over a red Ford Fiesta because one was just involved in a burglary. You might catch them with a handful of silver and a box of tools, but more than likely you'll find a lot of scared and innocent people just going about their business. Without other evidence of actual criminality (i.e. actually tying the person captured into the original incident with OTHER evidence than "you look a bit like him"), it's no better than a poor-man's identity parade (which are embarrassingly worthless).
As such, I don't see that it's worth spending that amount of money on, and likely that will become true as the stats for how much time was wasted / how many false-arrest claims are filed by relying on it.
Sure, you'll get the odd tug where the guy with the red Ford Fiesta / face that look like that also has a bunch of stuff on him that he shouldn't, but presumably no better or worse than random chance if you had bothered to search anyone on the street.
And carnivals etc. wouldn't be the best place to use it. I'd imagine city nightclubs would be much better - smaller training database but much more likely to catch the ones sneaking back in after being barred from the other club up the road, etc. I don't think those kinds of places use such things, though, relying instead on large scary men at the door to stop people entering anyway, so you might as well utilise their memory and instincts anyway.
Honestly, if facial recognition were this good, we wouldn't need the police much at all. I can offer you myriad images of clear faces of people wanted for committing illegal acts. They are called the "wanted by police" lists. Strange, then, that they don't get flagged up in Birmingham the second they walk past any camera, for a crime they committed in Glasgow. You know why? We don't have that kind of infrastructure and capacity, and even if we did, the false positives would render the system useless in seconds.
Presumably they don't get flagged up in Birmingham because the tech is being trialled in Cardiff.
And yes, it is exactly like pulling over a car based on matching model and colour from the description of a vehicle used in a crime.
Provided it is used properly, i.e. faces are captured only for checking against the wanted faces, then I have no problem with this. If not, well...
If it makes the police more effective at their jobs, so they can be more effective, then I wish the best for then. If used as a way to cut numbers of police on the streets, then it's being used in the wrong way.
"Provided it is used properly"
And therein lies the issue. It may be that today, the powers in charge of it use it properly. Tommorow? Next year? Next government? Next administration? Still so sure?
What about if and when it gets hacked by some skiddie, or extra national hackers? What about when the data from the capture gets leaked by a disgruntled employee? What about when a police officer or other authorized user decides to use it for their own ends?
Can you be completely assured that none of these scenarios will ever occur? After all, there is evidence that they've occurred before with other systems. And if they do, is there sufficient judicial and independent oversight to ensure that the powers that be can't just bury any such incident, or excuse themselves with no public accountability?
And if you get through all of that still nodding your head, ask yourself this: if there was a silent, suited, unaccountable, un-answering, unelected government official following you around all day taking notes and pictures would you still be nodding your head? How different is it that they are on the other side of a remote camera lens?
You may have nothing to hide, personally, but you should fear the state that takes these steps.
Whilst we don't have Police false positive stats we do have research papers from Facebook, Google and university researchers and they show false positive rates on a par with humans (although not trained ones). So it's reasonable to assume the Police face recognition will be as accurate as a human spotter.
Nobody much complains about human Police spotters identifying trouble makers at football matches. So is this just luddite objections? Or are we concerned about effective enforcement of rules we're unhappy with and picking on the wrong target?
"What about if and when it gets hacked by some skiddie, or extra national hackers? What about when the data from the capture gets leaked by a disgruntled employee? What about when a police officer or other authorized user decides to use it for their own ends?"
Well , lets look at those horrifying scenarios:
" hacked by some skiddie"
So the skiddie has a database of a load of criminals and access to run pictures at it to look for a match. So he could find out if the pic he has is a criminal. Well , thats a risk already isnt it ? If the polices computers are open to skiddies walking in and soing what they want then even without this tech they could be looking up records on anyone.
"data from the capture gets leaked by a disgruntled employee?"
Again , the police are quite strict about this sort of thing - but if some employee with access to all the systems they have at the moment was stupid enough to do a Bradley Manning - then .... wait a minute whats "the capture" you are referring to?
" authorized user d decides to use it for their own ends"
Well thats the same question again. I guess they could search for their ex and get a match at a trainstation , then run over there and kill them ..... But once again without this tech they could look up someones address and do the same. In fact anyone can do that right now with the electoral reg cant they?
So has anyone got a good and specific example of how this is a bad thing?
If the thugs that stamp on peoples heads outside nightclubs , that end up crimewatch with the caption "We have no fucking idea who this is" are then collared buying nuggets in KFC - thats a good thing.
Nobody much complains about human Police spotters identifying trouble makers at football matches. So is this just luddite objections?
Nobody complains about a school crossing patrol - so what's wrong with having a drone following you 24/7 and a camera recording everything you do and everyone you meet
Nobody complains about a school crossing patrol - so what's wrong with having a drone following you 24/7 and a camera recording everything you do and everyone you meet
I really don't mean to cause an argument here, this is a genuine question:
Can you please explain to me how those two situations are the same? Because frankly, I don't get it.
Unless of course your friendly neighbourhood lollipop lady is in fact a witch who has retrofitted her stop sign to be a broomstick and is stalking you (an unlikely situation, I admit).
"Nobody much complains about human Police spotters identifying trouble makers at football matches. So is this just luddite objections?"
I have no experience of Police spotters at football matches as I've assiduously avoided football for my entire adult life. So I'm open to contradiction in this. But as I understand the comment spotters would be looking for known individuals who shouldn't be there. If that's the case then their visual identifications would be subject to more robust checks on identification. If automatic facial recognition is being applied to the lousy images from typical CCTV as the only evidence then it's far from being a Luddite objection. The initial ID, human or AI, needs to be tested and distrusted until it's tested. A violent arrest as in the Denver case linked above really shouldn't be conducted on the basis of such ID.
It's really like the blood test kits we used to give to SOCO - and used in the lab as well. The technical term was a presumptive test (it worked by detecting peroxidase activity which haemoglobin shares with several other substances such as fruit juice). The presumptive test highlights something to be followed up to decide not only is it's blood but also what species.
Facial ID seems to be at the presumptive level - useful to tell you what's worth looking at but too liable to give false positives to be used solo.
I see from the linked article that the FBI have ditched hair evidence. I never could understand why they were keen on it. It always seems hopeless. In 14 years I only ever used it once and that was to give an ID of a body where there were 3 alternatives; fortunately I could exclude 2 as couldn't be and that left one that could have been.
"As such, I don't see that it's worth spending that amount of money on"
Pennies, you mean? It's about £7k to scan 200 cameras for the 74500 people at the millennium stadium. How much for 200 officers eyes for the event?
I'm not saying I'm in favour or against the scanning, but however you look at it this stuff is cheap!
Easier still, just criminalise having a ratboy face. You know, the sort of ugly weasel faced gits that seem to feature disproportionately on the wanted lists.
Then the police just arrest and charge the ugly, who carry the evidence with them. And when they come out of prison, they can arrest them immediately for a repeat offence. Obviously you'd need a few more prison places, particularly in places like the East Midlands where the population appear to be particular given to having offensive faces that would put them in breach of the Facial Offences Act 2018.
More worrying for the Welsh is, judging from the photo in the article, the incredibly poor quality weed they are subjected to.
That'll be Cymric Wyrdd, a Welsh assembly economic development project to create a Welsh recreational hash for export throughout the world. The business plan calls for 85,000 tonnes a year to be exported by 2023, creating 11,000 Welsh jobs, and bringing £7bn a year into the Welsh economy, two thirds of it going to the Welsh Assembly. The genetics are a closely guarded secret, but it is believed that IGER won a contract to cross breed nettles with orgeano, and experienced hash smokers have described as having overtones of dried burnt sheep shit, or composted squaddy socks.
Just before the match started my friends phone was stolen out of her hand. She didn't give it easily and ended up on the floor. This was less than 100m from Cardiff Police station ! Some of our group heard her shout but the attacker was on a bike.
Fingers crossed they catch the git, they took swabs for DNA matching and checked cctv but not heard anything back. I'm more worried that they will keep her DNA on a list forever and accidentally match her for something in the future :/
The same country that has just called for 16 year olds to be given the vote because "they can handle it" while at the same time banning 16 year olds from getting "interesting piercings" because they're not mature enough to understand the ramifications.
I can't see this AFR stuff backfiring at all....
"I can't see this AFR stuff backfiring at all...."
They can recognise pictures of your bum as well?! That is a bit intrusive!
Mine's the arseless overcoat. Also, can I have the boots designed to hinder gait analysis and the Theresa May face-mask. Thanks.
Should that not be the other way round...
Banning 16 year olds from getting "interesting piercings" because "they can handle it" .
The same country that has just called for 16 year olds to be given the vote because not mature enough to understand the ramifications.
Certainly better matches the usual mental politician meddling and seeking advantage.
A whole new concept.
Imagine, being formally Released and then immediately being re-arrested for 'Attempted Escape' because you'd lost track of how many times that you'd been "further arrested".
Constable Bobby S. Wales yells, "Hey! Where are you going? You've been Arrested and then 'Further Arrested' 17 more times, making 18 concurrent arrests in total. But you've only been formally Released from 17 of those. So you're still under 'further arrest' once. Now plus one more for Attempted Escape. That makes two as of right now. Would you like a pen and paper to help keep track?"
Keeping DNA samples and fingerprints even after a suspect is found innocent.
Perfectly sensible, given once you've had the Policing and Justice system 'steamroll' over you once, you're unlikely to be as helpful with the police anymore, twice or more, well, by that time you'd be thinking of hitting the proverbial woods with a small arsenal.
Recently had to provide fresh fingerprints as part of a security clearance renewal, to be used to confirm identity by comparison with my prints on file. Forms reassured me that my fresh fingerprints would be destroyed after they'd fulfilled their brief role.
Seems pointless since they have, and are keeping, my original prints on permanent file. Silly reassurance.
Not at all. It is a surveillance state. Google searches get stored and introduced into databases, DNS requests, websites visited, as many emails as possible, social media, cameras everywhere.. and now facial recognition.
If we are going to be living in such a society, well, at least use the databases to stop criminals. I do disagree with drugs being illegal, but illegal they are, so dont buy them.
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