Surveillance Prison Taking Shape: Facial Recognition is Turning Us Into Walking ID Cards

The following excerpt is from page 4 of The Light (Issue 44, April 2024) published by The Light Paper.  The Light is a people-funded monthly newspaper that can either be read online or printed copies can be ordered for delivery to a chosen address, anywhere in the world.

by Donna Rachel

When Harvey Eugene Murphy Jr. visited his home state of Texas to get his driving licence renewed, he never imagined the trip would result in him being wrongfully arrested and assaulted in jail.

Yet that is precisely what happened to the 61-year-old grandfather thanks to Houston Police’s reliance on facial recognition technology.

Murphy was arrested in relation to the armed robbery of a Sunglass Hut store in Houston. But while the real thieves were making off with thousands of dollars in cash and merchandise, Murphy was back home in California, nowhere near the scene. By the time the Harris County District Attorney’s office in Texas figured that out, it was already too late – three men had sexually assaulted Murphy in a bathroom in jail, leaving him with permanent injuries.

“Mr Murphy’s story is troubling for every citizen in this country,” said Daniel Dutko, a lawyer representing Murphy. “Any person could be improperly charged with a crime based on error-prone facial recognition software, just as he was.”

If you think that such things could never happen in the UK, think again. Some British police forces already use facial recognition tech. London’s Met Police use it on the streets routinely. It was also used last year to watch crowds at the King’s Coronation, at an Arsenal v Tottenham match, at a Beyonce gig, and even on F1 Grand Prix day at Silverstone.

According to civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, since the Met Police started using facial recognition tech, 85% of all matches identified by the system were wrong. The figure for South Wales police is even worse: 90% of matches were incorrect. “We’ve [personally] witnessed people being wrongly stopped by the police because facial recognition misidentified them,” the group said in a report.

Despite these disastrous figures, policing minister Chris Phelps wrote to police chiefs last October urging them to “double the number of [facial recognition] searches by May 2024, so they exceed 200,000 across England and Wales.”

“This dangerously authoritarian technology has the potential to turn populations into walking ID cards in a constant police lineup,” said Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch.

Her comment highlights the real problem here. When people think “digital ID,” they think of a card or passport, something with a reference number. But biometric data – facial recognition, fingerprint recognition, even gait recognition to identify those who wear masks – renders ID cards obsolete.

Consequently, when Tony Blair and William Hague jointly released a report in February last year calling for “a secure, private, decentralised digital-ID system,” the Prime Minister’s spokesman was able to say with a straight face: “There are no plans to introduce digital ID. Our position on physical ID cards remains unchanged. We are already carrying out work to enhance the digitalisation of public services.”

But the government doesn’t have to let citizens know that they are in a surveillance system by issuing something as obvious as a physical card. Instead, citizens are coerced into handing over their biometric data unwittingly; using face recognition software to unlock their phone, or to check into a hotel, or to open a bank account, or even by simply walking into their local Tesco.

Meanwhile, the government is forging ahead with a vast range of digital ID schemes, such as the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill, currently passing through the House of Lords. That bill gives the government widespread powers to tap into data collected by a range of public and private enterprises, including banks.

Sourced from Truth Unmuted

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