Computer World: Undercover cops secretly use smartphones, face recognition to spy on crowds

Kaye Beach

September 18, 2012

Darla Storm from Computer World hits the story that had me on fire last night, regarding the incredible admission by Florida law enforcement that they are using facial recognition on what, by all accounts, was peaceful protestors at the RNC 2012;

A Florida intelligence officer admitted that undercover police were mingling with the public, using their smartphones to take videos and photos to spy on “suspicious” citizens. Then the undetected cops could determine a person’s name by checking the image against a facial recognition database. That is precisely what happened at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, according to a report from the National Journal.

Storm reports;

The live video from smartphones fed into the 2012 RNC surveillance system which also included 94 “high-definition cameras connected via a wireless network. 31 are fixed-point and about 63 surveillance cameras have pan/tilt/zoom capabilities that can be remotely aimed and zoomed in to 20x optical,” Networkworld reported. Each CCTV included a geographic tag. All video captured from those cameras will be stored for four years. It’s also becoming more common for networked computers with artificial intelligence, behavioral recognition software, to monitor the public for abnormal behavior. Tampa local web developer Jon Gales was the watcher watching the watchers as the system was installed. Gales then mapped the high definition CCTV cameras and created a mobile app called RNCCTV.

The FCC granted special permission to test the “interoperable network that used technology from several private companies” in Tampa. The National Journal reported that this surveillance network “was part of an effort to eventually develop a similar $7 billion National Public Safety Broadband Network for everyday use across the country.” This “next-generation broadband network” can send “highly secure, encrypted voice, video, and data communications, as well as an evidence-quality, permanent recording of all data collected.” The ACLU questioned if this new National Public Safety Broadband Network  is actually a “tool for a domestic secret police?”

Storm writes; ‘Admitting to infiltrating the protesters and planning to run a smartphone photo against facial recognition is a big deal. The FBI started rolling out a $1 billion face recognition project. . . ‘

She is right.   It is a big deal!

Darla Storm goes on to do her readers a great service by providing the larger context of the issue explaining how innocent Americans are being enrolled into  databases suitable for this type of use of facial recognition.

The EFF warned us that many Americans are in face recognition databases right now even if they don’t know it. If you’ve never done anything “wrong,” don’t attend protests, don’t have a passport, and can’t imagine being in a face recognition database, then stop to think about your driver’s license. If you have one, then yes your face is most likely in a database. Or it soon will be.

. . .There are 18 REAL ID benchmarks, some which you might be aware, but DMVs ask people not to smile and show their teeth for the “facial image capture.” That is because the image must be compatible with facial recognition software. These photos are fed into facial recognition databases used by law enforcement agencies.

I am thrilled that major media is hitting this issue in such a complete and informative way!

Please read the entire article.

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One response to “Computer World: Undercover cops secretly use smartphones, face recognition to spy on crowds

  1. Pingback: Computer World: Undercover cops secretly use smartphones, face recognition to spy on crowds | GrassrootsHeadlines.com

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