By Aaron Kesel
Activist Post has warned that the COVID-1984 pandemic would be used to relinquish your rights and continue the accelerated rollout of facial recognition and normal surveillance like drones and smartphones. Now, that fact is being admitted publicly as countries seek to use facial recognition, artificial intelligence and surveillance cameras to fight the spread of CV.
In China, some residents’ homes on the outside and inside the buildings themselves are plagued by surveillance cameras to monitor those under quarantine and enforce the lockdowns.
In China, surveillance cameras are being installed right outside people's front doors – and sometimes inside their homes – to enforce coronavirus quarantine.
"I can't bear the thought that our everyday lives are completely exposed to the govt's scrutiny."https://t.co/xS8beRMGtN
— Nectar Gan (@Nectar_Gan) April 28, 2020
Robots have also been deployed for use in quarantine hotels.
But China isn’t the only country that seeks to use surveillance to monitor the health and location of its citizens, France is also deploying measures in the name of “safety.” France will begin using its existing network of surveillance cameras to monitor if its population is wearing masks, and track how its citizens are complying with social distancing after its coronavirus lockdown is eased next week, according to reports.
Besides France and China, Russia is also utilizing surveillance cameras on its own population. Russia is using its pre-existing massive facial recognition network of over 100,000 cameras to monitor citizens under quarantine.
In total, governments in at least 25 countries are employing vast programs for — mobile data tracking, apps to record personal contact with others, CCTV networks equipped with facial recognition, permission schemes to go outside and drones to enforce social isolation regimes according to The Guardian.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., Californian software developer Landing AI has created video surveillance software that watches people and sounds the alarm if they get too close to one another.
“Landing AI has developed an AI-enabled social distancing detection tool that can detect if people are keeping a safe distance from each other by analyzing real-time video streams from the camera,” the company said in a statement.
A similar technology is already being introduced by Amazon in its warehouses, with the company threatening to fire workers if they violate social distancing “guidelines.” Speaking of Amazon, its home surveillance company, Ring, is now testing the public’s acceptance of facial recognition according to a document obtained by ArsTechnica. However, as Activist Post has pointed out most police departments are already using Amazon’s Facial Rekognition technology in combination with Ring’s video they have access to. So adding facial recognition to Ring’s cameras wouldn’t be news at all.
A third company in the U.S, Clearview AI, isn’t even trying to hide their motives, stating its facial recognition technology could be used by federal and state agencies to slow the spread of CV through “contact tracing.”
Controversial tech company Clearview AI says it's in talks with federal and state agencies to track COVID-19 using facial recognition.@byjacobward spoke with the founder and CEO Hoan Ton-That in an NBC News NOW exclusive
— NBC News NOW (@NBCNewsNow) April 28, 2020
Although not equipped with facial recognition technology, an apartment complex in Boston has already started using thermal cameras to monitor its residents, similar to China, CBS reported.
Such cameras are another threat to our privacy which are now being used by businesses to monitor the temperature of their employees for potentially sick workers, as Activist Post previously reported.
Fortunately for us, there is a little hope as Congress recently demanded that Amazon disclose how its Ring service stores data, while other lawmakers have called for a halt of rolling out facial recognition technology altogether, Activist Post reported.
Last year, legislators called for putting a “time out” on facial recognition technology until regulations are in place. So far, Congress has held two oversight hearings on the topic and there are at least four bills in the works to limit the technology.
On top of that, some cities in the U.S. have outright banned the biometric technology like San Francisco, Somerville, Massachusetts, and Oakland, California, as Activist Post reported.
The rapid growth of this technology has triggered a much-needed debate to slow down the rollout. Activists, politicians, academics and even police forces all over the world are expressing serious concerns over the impact facial recognition could have on our society.
Although, that debate might be voided with the CV pandemic providing a window of opportunity for Orwellian technology to become permanently embeded in our lives. The battle isn’t over yet, though; in fact, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over its use of facial recognition technology in airports.
Aaron Kesel writes for Activist Post.
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