Orwell Could Never Have Predicted This Level of Surveillance


By Mark Nestmann, The Nestmann Group

I love technology.

I can’t imagine life without the modern conveniences of telephones, email, and the Internet. Not to mention running water, air conditioning, and automobiles.

But sometimes, technology gets … well, creepy.

And the creepier the technology, the more likely Big Brother will use it to keep tabs on you. A case in point is the increasing sophistication of facial recognition technology.

Facial recognition combines digital images of faces with software that creates a unique “faceprint” of each one, along with a database of images against which “faceprints” can be compared.

A few years ago, face recognition systems were almost laughably inaccurate.

I have an article in my archives from 2003, in which two Japanese tourists visiting Australia fooled an early version of the technology simply by swapping passports. However, this strategy wouldn’t fool today’s face recognition software.

In the US, you generally have no right to privacy with respect to your facial features. And no federal law regulates the collection of biometric data. If you’re in a public place, the courts have concluded you have a greatly reduced expectation of privacy. Anyone with a camera can legally take your picture in a public space.

But the rules for face recognition are beginning to change, thanks to laws in a handful of states and a court decision involving one of the largest collections of faceprints in existence, compiled by Facebook. Earlier this month, a federal judge in California refused to dismiss a class action lawsuit against Facebook brought by residents of Illinois. The lawsuit alleged Facebook collected, stored, and used faceprints in violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). The law is intended to protect the privacy of Illinois residents in their personal biometric data. Regulated biometric identifiers can include a scan of “face geometry.”

Facebook uses face recognition technology to match photographs users have uploaded to subsequently present “tag suggestions” for digitized images uploaded later. Subscribers can then “tag” friends or family members. At first glance, it seems completely harmless, especially since you can turn off “tagging” in your Facebook settings. But the Illinois plaintiffs didn’t see it that way at all.

And the fact is Facebook has the largest single collection of images ever assembled. More than one billion Facebook users had uploaded more than 250 billion pictures by 2013, and the total number today is undoubtedly much higher. Of course, not all the photos are of faces, but many – perhaps most – are.

But what’s the real harm in allowing companies like Facebook to assemble vast face databases to make “tag suggestions”?

Consider FindFace, a face recognition app now taking Russia by storm. FindFace allows users to photograph people on the street, in a bar, or anywhere else and identify them by matching the photos to digital images uploaded to VK, a Russian social networking site. VK has about 200 million users – large, but not nearly as big as Facebook. The developers claim the system is 70% reliable in identifying the right person, with each version of the app improving accuracy. Apparently, FindFace can’t match photos posted on Facebook, at least not yet

The really creepy part is the way the app has already been used – and abused. FindFace makes it possible for stalkers to harass individuals on the street who have VK profiles. The founders – 20-something males – envision being able to take a photo of an attractive woman, match her photo to a VK profile, and then ask her out on a date. But they believe the real breakthrough for their company will come when law enforcement authorities adopt it. They claim police have already used FindFace to locate criminal suspects who had seemingly disappeared.

It turns out that something similar and even creepier is already underway in the US. But instead of Facebook, authorities are using a database you can’t opt out of or turn off – archives of state driver’s license photos. State and local police and the FBI all use face recognition software to scan state driver’s license records to track down fugitives. And as part of the “Real ID Act,” states must digitize driver’s license photos, making it possible for face recognition software to sift through millions of photos in search of a match.

Mo-We-FrSeveral companies have developed systems that allow police to search these facial archives. The systems consist of a handheld face recognition device that plugs into a smart phone, and they’re being used by an increasing number of police departments nationwide.

It’s easy to see how this technology could be abused, and not just by stalkers.

Let’s say you’re in a public demonstration against the ruling party that gets out of hand. Police identify the participants with face recognition and then arrest them at their leisure. Not to mention whistleblowers and those who support political causes or social issues that aren’t approved of by most Americans.

It’s not easy to protect your privacy against this technology, but I do have a few suggestions.

  • Don’t renew your driver’s license until it expires. Photos taken more than a decade or so for driver’s licenses aren’t necessarily in digital form and are harder to match. A few states even allow you to cite your religious beliefs to avoid having a photo appear on your driver’s license at all.
  • Unsubscribe from Facebook and other social networks. If you use these networks, don’t post photos of yourself.
  • Wear head coverings. A hat will prevent a camera above you from capturing a clear image of your face, unless you look at it. If you’re a Muslim woman or don’t mind dressing as one, a burqa will obscure your entire face.
  • If you’re a man, grow a beard. Like hats or other head coverings, a beard – at least a full one – hides enough of your face to make face recognition more difficult.

One thing is for certain. The technology underpinning face recognition will only improve. Be ready for it by acting proactively.


Want a proven, safe and simple way to protect your assets? For nearly three decades, Mark Nestmann has successfully helped clients do just that. That’s where Take Back Your Rights come in. It introduces you to some common sense ways to keep yourself safe in a dangerous, unstable world.

And ActivistPost.com has arranged for you to get the course for FREE (for a limited time).
See: www.nestmann.com/ap1

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7 Comments on "Orwell Could Never Have Predicted This Level of Surveillance"

  1. WealthyPizzaDeliveryGuy | August 24, 2016 at 8:09 pm | Reply

    They can already track you thru the gps on your cellphone or your vehicle. They can track you thru your digital purchases and your banking habits. If you have facebook, they can contact and intimidate your phakebook ‘friends’ to obtain knowledge of your whereabouts. Your tv is looking back at you and nearly every public place or intersection has cameras. Your appliances even tattle-tale on you. You already signed on to the global plantation plan when you registered your birth, applied for ss#, drivers license, bank account, voter registration, federal/state benefits, etc. They know your buying habits, likes/dislikes, your friends, family, associates, employers and anyone else you come into contact with. They have already labeled you and assigned you a threat level should the SHTF, they already know by predictive programming how you will act. They ALREADY know you better than you know yourself! They likely already have a bed assigned for you at the local fema camp. So what if they use facial recognition systems? They already have you in their sights. So relax, dont worry and just remember “if you are not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear” Privacy? That is soo 20th century!

    • I know that is true, I have most of my social networks inter-connected through google and micro-soft, who knows what others have “tapped in” … I just don’t care because I am too old for that, I am at peace with myself so it matters not what they try to do with me, if it is too rough I will just cash out.

      I do feel very sad for all of the young folks though, they will have a very rough road to travel … the sooner they look inside and find their higher Self (INtuitive Spirit of GOD) the better off, there lies the Truth that would Set Them Free!!!

      Best wishes one and all … you will need more than I can offer though … time to “wake up” !!!

  2. Orwell couldn’t have predicted the microchip which controls it all. Their control grid needs an electricity supply 24/7/365 and therein lies its weakness. Digital communications, CCTV, data retention, keypad security etc all mean they cannot run their prison grid on batteries and generators. They don’t have the manpower so maybe the best way to defeat their prison grid is to cause regular blackouts across the country. By then we’ll need to go off-grid to avoid arrest so long-term blackouts should be our aim.

    We should sabotage fiber-optic and copper cables communications under the sidewalks; phone masts; sub-stations; diesel tanks [for their generators as well as vehicles]; and crews sent out to repair them.

    • Boy are you ever making yourself a target ! Or you are a “honey-pot” involved in a “sting” … a lot of “that” goes on.

      • Doing nothing has been so effective so far, though hasn’t it? they might win either way, but at least if people try and fail they can say they at least tried. Doing nothing is far worse. And if people all try different things then over time they might find a way around the controls… though posting the ideas on social media means they will be tracked…. yet for most social media is the only way to reach large numbers of people with information or ideas. So damned if you do or don’t, but to even genuinely speak the possibility of action is to show resistance to the control. If he is not trying to trap people, if he is genuine, then I admire his willingness to at least try to come up with a way to resist. He has honor.

    • Botswana Jones | August 29, 2016 at 1:26 am | Reply

      Your really Mick McNUTTY!

  3. I just had to come back after watching “The Purge” down below …the “THEY” have always been in control, They know what is coming down the the time frame. They have always prepared because They are highly intelligent knowing how we will react as They offer us all kinds of entertainment to keep us distracted.

    When the time is ripe, it will happen, most will not know what “hit” them and it will be too late. Even for those who try and prepare it will be futile … at least that is what They think, and what They want us to think.

    But just as in Kuwait and other places of oppression, there are many ways to resist, no one foresaw IEDs, and who knows what other effective surprises await, many Americans are very creative and skilled enough to think off the wall in creating their own surprises.

    The biggest hurdle for the people will always be what it always has been, “Turncoats”, fellow humans, of the lowest order cowards, that would act secretly, serving the oppressors behind our backs acting like one of us as betrayed us all.

    My eyes have been open on this subject for over twenty years now seeing things change for the worse, I have even been in contact with “Them” and they make no bones about their abilities and intentions. They do not think like we do, they are not hampered by compassion or kindness like we are, if they want to do bad things they will, the end always justifies the means in Their book. It is time to begin preparation … to become a Prepper … one one sort or another. Better late than never.

    IMnsHO and E.

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