back to article Clearview said to be chasing every mugshot taken in the US over the last 15 years to paste into its facial-recog system

If you're sick of hearing about the coronavirus outbreak, you can take a breather here. There will be no further mention of the disease, just loads facial recognition misuse and a few other bits and bobs. Facial recognition on police body cams Two police officers in New Mexico will test body cameras that can perform facial …

  1. Mike Shepherd
    Meh

    We know where this is going

    Soon, police will shoot dead someone "identified" falsely by automatic recognition. The subsequent recommendation will be to "tighten procedures".

    1. Persona Silver badge

      Re: We know where this is going

      It will also be described as a "one off" event. Which it will be for the person shot dead.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: We know where this is going

        UK police already killed a little girl.

        The police car's onboard licence plate reader (mistakenly) identified a car with an expired tag and so naturally the officer drove at 70mph through a housing estate to persue this threat to national security.

        The little girl on the crossing was collateral damage

    2. BillG
      FAIL

      Re: We know where this is going

      Although a few US cities in California and Massachusetts have banned local government agencies, including law enforcement, from using the technology,

      Hahaha.... Massachusetts freely uses facial-recognition technology live on the streets, including Boston, in defiance of local laws. They are "testing" the technology - get it?

      1. hoola Bronze badge

        Re: We know where this is going

        This is all about some VC backed "Startup" being run by a bunch of greedy, money grubbing scroats that believe everything they do is beyond the law and beneficial to society. Just trying to sell it to law enforcement is an attempt at respectability.

        As usual regulators and governments will sit on their arses until long after they can be stopped. With all this data, once it has been collected it is next to impossible to control and the damage can never be undone.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: We know where this is going

      "police will shoot dead someone "identified" falsely by automatic recognition. "

      They've already managed to do this several times - UK police executing innocents identified as IRA terrorists was a thing long before they executed a Brazilian electrician on the Underground in front of a few hundred witnesses

      You never know, the rate might actually go DOWN (mainly because of all the false negatives)

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: We know where this is going

        The difference was they were at least following instructions from the chain of command

        This new system will ultimately just be a red flashing dot on their Google glass and they will shoot on reflex

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: We know where this is going

          "The difference was they were at least following instructions from the chain of command"

          Not in the case of leaping on the bonnet of a car stopped in a jam on the M3 near Heathrow and unloading several shots into the driver's face through the windscreen they weren't (1983 or thereabouts)

          They hadn't even bothered to call it in before firing - it all went off on one of the squad members making a mistaken visual identification whilst on alert.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Clearview is really the pits

    and probably Big Bro in disgise.

    Just when you think things can't get any worse (Fartbook and Cambridge Analytica) it does by a few orders of magnitude.

    Trumpo people will love getting their hands on this. It is election year after all so pretty well anything goes.

  3. Snake Silver badge

    I *did* warn you

    that Big Brother wouldn't come from government, it would come from private enterprise.

    With the guppy sheep masses embracing it with open arms. Because if private enterprise is creating it, it is a "wanted benefit to society", rather than government's "It's not the solution, it's the problem" existence

    Let them eat cake.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I *did* warn you

      I only have experience of the old black and white film. I'd not put it past the idea that the TVs shown were private and commercial products. Just encouraged by Big Bro to have their eyes and ears installed.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RCMP in Canada lied about using Clearview

    As title see links below, seemingly clearview was monitoring a journalist doing an investigation and putting pressure on various police depts to stonewall her...the start of OCP ala Robocop???

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/clearview-ai-rcmp-facial-recognition-1.5482266

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/rcmp-clearview-ai-1.5490988

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/clearview-ai-rcmp-facial-recognition-1.5479673

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/clearview-ai-rcmp-facial-recognition-1.5479098

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/clearview-ai-worrisome-for-black-indigenous-marginalized-communities-1.5486325

    https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-jan-21-2020-1.5434328/the-end-of-anonymity-facial-recognition-app-used-by-police-raises-serious-concerns-say-privacy-advocates-1.5435278

  5. moiety Silver badge

    On the plus side, at least policemen are wearing cameras. Although they'll probably be mysteriously nonfunctional when it comes to your turn.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "Although they'll probably be mysteriously nonfunctional when it comes to your turn."

      Perhaps in the USA

      European police are finding out to their great delight that the cameras invariably show what they said, happened, vs what the complainant said.

      Something about honesty, integrity and not being an occupying paramilitary force. Police are merely civilians with a badge, some extra responsibilities and in the case of Europe - held to a MUCH higher standard than those who aren't sworn peace officers.

      One of the most amusing things I ever saw on the UK version of motorway cops was the woman caught speeding who tried to get it brushed aside because she was an off duty officer - it went from getting ticketed for a minor offence (possibly even just a warning) to having the book thrown at her.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cut to the chase.

    Arrest everyone, only let the pure* go free.

    * Those who vote the "correct" way and who love Big Brother just right.

  7. PhilipN Silver badge

    Could be worse .... actually no it couldn’t.

    Already guilty without charge.

    Friend of mine has been blacklisted by the international banking system because he has the same (not uncommon) name as a Mexican drug lord. No way in hell to convince the fresh-faced kid behind a desk that “it is not me”. Once it is in the database ......

  8. quattroprorocked

    Real time false positives and trigger happy policemen with guns

    What could possibly go wrong?

    I actually think that UK style trials (limited number of suspects, public places) are sensible to do and involve no more than a few minutes of time and an apology.

    Not so sure that it will be so benign in the US.

    "Shot because computer said he was someone he wasn't".

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Real time false positives and trigger happy policemen with guns

      Not that sensible given that they keep pushing ahead in spite of mounting evidence of excessive false positives.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Real time false positives and trigger happy policemen with guns

        "mounting evidence of excessive false positives."

        and a notable LACK of evidence of testing for false negatives

        Incidentally the fingerprinting system started showing its cracks not that long ago - the notion that fingerprints were unique took a battering when it came out that "yes they are, but not for the number of points we check at"

        It seems that if you include "EVERYONE'S" fingerprints you start getting matches on people who weren't even in the country (sometimes not even born) when a crime took place.

        Then there's the DNA testing and results debacle - it's great for ELIMINATING suspects but a lot lousier for matching them even if you can run familial checks, but that (of course) is not how it was sold to juries)

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Real time false positives and trigger happy policemen with guns

      >"Shot because computer said he was someone he wasn't".

      Police officers really shouuldn't be trusted with guns.

      So we introduced the new SentryGun(tm) powered by nearly flawless AI facial recognition

      1. CountCadaver Bronze badge

        Re: Real time false positives and trigger happy policemen with guns

        mounted on the new high mobility platform ED-209

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Real time false positives and trigger happy policemen with guns

      "I actually think that UK style trials (limited number of suspects, public places) are sensible to do and involve no more than a few minutes of time and an apology."

      No, and that attitude is flat out _dangerous_

      Without salting the trials using mugshots of people you KNOW are in the crowd, you're ignoring the possibility of false negatives, let alone quantifying any rates - lest you think that's unimportant, I refer you to a similar issue expressed in star ratings: https://xkcd.com/937/

      Email list companies have known about this problem for decades. It's very hard to prove someone hasn't opted in, but actively salting spammer lists with canary traps PROVES that the company hiring your services is a spammer. I know of several companies which hold the first few mailings of any new customer to check the outbound queues AND look for obvious spoor before letting the stuff out - there's no indication of any such quality checking in any of these facial recognition systems being deployed and they're far more dangerous than a few billion pieces of email getting loose on 't intawebs.

      Another indicator of the dangerousness of these systems: The ENTIRE european genome can be expressed in around 20,000 individuals. Chinese genome variation is a bit smaller. The east-asian genome in general is only 50-60,000 people wide and it gets smaller as you fan away from Formosa (The entire african one can be expressed across about 2 million individuals, whilst the entire East Polynesian genome comes down to less than 5000 individuals).

      (*) Which makes it more obvious the ubiquitous chinese facial recognition system is less about tracking potential offenders and more about keeping an eye on people who aren't Han.

      The TL;DR of this is that there are a LOT of people out there wearing similar-to-near-identical faces

      As with fingerprinting, the premise of "uniqueness" is fatally flawed by samples having too small a dataset to validate that claim (unique amongst the pool of criminals known to scotland yard perhaps, but across the entire population? This is what agencies are finding out to their cost as they hoover up more data)

      The same thing was found to apply to DNA fingerprinting as practiced in law enforcement

      Ditto Iris matching. (retinal vein layouts are likely more unique, as are subdermal hand vein layouts - these vary wildly even between identical twins - a factor of genetics AND local conditions during gestation.

      Facial recognition is likely to be another gallon of snake oil - great for proving someone's NOT who you're looking for but almost useless at showing they _are_ the droids you seek.

      The problem - as always - is that there are a lot of people who stand to make out like bandits from selling snake oil and a lot of people who stand to make lots of political/power points by buying it.

  9. KBeee
    Joke

    Down at heel

    Poor Anthony Levandowski. No wonder he was forced to appropriate data from Google when he left. Did they expect him to struggle by on a paltry $120M?

    1. Ian 55

      Re: Down at heel

      Given that Uber indemnified him against such suits, I'd add a zero or two to the end of the number - they clearly knew it was dodgy.

  10. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Unhappy

    The land of the free?

    'nuff said.

  11. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Unintended consequences

    It's commercial software, well within the budget of organised crime bosses. Just feed it the mugshot of every police officer (e.g. enter "police graduation" under Google Images for starters), and the villains can be alerted whenever an undercover officer is spotted ...

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Unintended consequences

      Unlike the police, Fat Tony DOES care about false negatives - and is likely to "send the boyz around for a discussion about quality control" if things don't work as well as advertised.

  12. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    safely navigate complex environments

    It was very windy today when I was out driving. Most of the trip with south, then back north and the wind was from the west. Trying to keep the car in the lane was getting a bit tiring at times. Anyone know how these self driving cars handle themselves in bad weather yet? All we ever see in the demos and videos is nice, dry, clear and wide US streets in nice weather conditions. For that matter, what's it like driving a car with active lane-keeping in strong and gusty cross-winds? Does it still work as well as usual, or what?

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