Surveillance cameras will soon be able to identify everyone by talking to their cellphones.
“This system basically allows surveillance cameras to talk to the public through their individual phones,” Purdue University doctoral student Siyuan Cao said.
As the above video illustrates, soon nowhere will be safe from Big Brother’s prying eyes.
Purdue University’s SIMBA Labs has developed a camera-to-human surveillance program called PHADE otherwise known as Private Human Addressing. The name of this new program, seems appropriate as everyone’s privacy will soon phade fade away (pun intended).
Before I discuss PHADE I would like to point out a few important facts.
Purdue University is also known as “Purdue Homeland University (PHU).” PHU’s mission is to “enhance Homeland Security.and validate Homeland Security technology.”
DHS/PHU also has an entire section devoted to giving threat assessments of K-12 grade students, “we have created a threat assessment tool that schools can use for an all-hazards approach.” You cannot make this stuff up.
PHADE’s effect on everyone’s privacy cannot be understated.
Forget Facebook and Twitter’s massive surveillance program, PHADE will make those programs look trivial due to its sheer size. With the number of cellphone users expected to reach 4.68 billion by next year, PHADE will allow governments to pry into people’s lives like never before.
Purdue University’s newsroom claims PHADE will protect everyone’s privacy by blurring “partial details,” but contradicts itself by boasting that “government agencies can use PHADE to enhance public safety.”
Unknown IP/Mac address; PHADE knows who you are
A white paper titled “Enabling Public Cameras to Talk to the Public” is so Orwellian in nature that I find it extremely difficult to write about.
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This paper asks: Is it possible for cameras in public areas, say ceiling cameras in a museum, to send personalized messages to people without knowing any addresses of their phones? We define this kind of problem as Private Human Addressing and develop a real-time end-to-end system called PHADE to solve it. Unlike traditional data transmission protocols that need to first learn the destination’s address, our cameras rely on viewing user’s motion patterns, and use the uniqueness of these patterns as the address for communication. Once receiving the wireless broadcast from the cameras, the user’s phone can locally compare the motion address of the packet against its own motion sensor data, and accept the packet upon a good match.
This is truly frightening, PHADE allows CCTV cameras to identify people in real-time even if they don’t know the cellphones IP/MAC address.
Without knowing users’ smartphone addresses, PHADE is able to communicate with them relying on the motion patterns captured by cameras and using these patterns as destination addresses.
The paper goes on to warn people that PHADE can identify people by how they walk and what they are looking at in real-time.
PHADE uses motion extraction or gait matching to identify individuals.
“First, an efficient motion feature should have high distinguishability, which means that it holds rich diversity among different people and can be used to easily discriminate their walking behaviors.” (To learn more about gait matching click here.)
And that is not even the worst of it.
PHADE also uses gesture-based messaging to identify what a person is pointing at.
We detect three gestures (i.e. pointing to the left wall, the right wall or the roof) using the body parts generated by OpenPose, and send customized messages to the user according to the mural that it is pointing at.
What is PHADE’s real mission?
PHADE’s mission is “to identify and associate individuals in the camera view with their smartphones.”
Imagine how law enforcement will use this.
All a police officer would need to do is point a CCTV camera at a person of interest and know in real-time who they are, where they live and exactly what they are looking at.
To call PHADE a privacy nightmare really does not do it justice.