Protests against face recognition are on the rise

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Protests against face recognition are on the rise

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Increasingly, activists, legislators and independent experts have expressed concern about the mass surveillance, confidentiality and security of the information collected.
More and more people are afraid that face recognition violates personal integrity

As night falls in London, Georgina Rowlands and Anna Hart begin to wear makeup. Instead of lipsticks and eyeliners, the two women draw geometric shapes on their faces.

The two are part of the founders of the Dazzle Club, a group of artists who teamed up last year to spark debate about the growing use of facial recognition technology in the public. Georgina and Anna’s actions are only a small part of the growing public dissatisfaction with the use of technology.

Rowlands has long narrow blue triangles and thin white rectangles that intersect on her face. Hart painted her face with red, orange and white angular shapes.

Together with like-minded people, they make monthly silent walks in parts of London to attract attention and raise people’s awareness of the technology they consider “uncontrolled surveillance.”

Confusing computers

A total of 19 people with drawn faces gather for a second vigil in the eastern London neighborhood of Sch̦redich. The drawing style has its name: CV Dazzle. A technique developed by artist and researcher Adam Harvey aims to mask against face recognition systems. These figures are not accidental Рthey transform images of persons into mathematical formulas that can be analyzed by algorithms.

CV Dazzle – where CV is the abbreviation for “computer vision”, ie computer vision – use a cubic design to fool computers. The final image shows many bright and very dark colors. “We often choose black and white shapes or very contrasting colors, because that’s how the light shades of the face get confused,” Rowlands explains.

To test how CCTV cameras respond to makeup, the two women first use the cameras on their own smartphones. “I see I’m hidden, she doesn’t recognize me,” Rowlands said, looking at her phone to see that her face was not surrounded by a square.

Security against rights

The rise of facial recognition technology began in China, where an authoritarian mode of management required intensive use of cameras in public places. Many other countries are already implementing such systems. This development of technology is justified by counter-terrorism and riot measures.

But more and more people fear that such practices violate the true human right to privacy. Protests against widespread use of cameras are increasing. Increasingly, activists, legislators and independent experts are raising concerns about the mass surveillance, confidentiality and security of the information collected.

Of most concern is the manner in which records are stored, who has access to them and whether it can be ensured that repositories cannot be hacked and information compromised.

The protests in London are by far the only ones. There is information about similar actions in Russia, Serbia, Uganda – worldwide. Last month, Russian artist Katherine Nenasheva, also painted with CV Dazzle-style makeup, was arrested in Moscow with several other activists after a group protested for the same reason – widespread video surveillance in the city.

The growing epidemic of coronavirus in recent months has shown that wearing a mask on the nose and mouth is not enough to mislead public face cameras.

Most software algorithms that use cameras can find compliance, even if half of the face is hidden.

Black glasses are also not enough, unless they are special – ones with an infrared-reflective coating that blind the cameras.

Resistance movement

“There is a resistance movement against face recognition that we are actively involved in and want to be the initiators of,” Rowlands said on behalf of activists in London.

Their concern is that video surveillance systems are set up in busy public places without sufficient public awareness, without the public being aware of what the images are used for and how.

Police and police say the cameras need new technology needed to protect public order and that “images of innocent people are immediately deleted.”

But most people are not aware of what is being done with their photos, how they are processed, how much and where they are stored, whether they have been deleted and when.

Protests against face recognition are on the rise

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