Churchix: The Face Recognition Event Attendance Desktop Application You've Been Praying For?

from the forgive-me,-for-I-have-scanned dept

Churchix may sound like yet another niche GNU/Linux distro aimed, perhaps, at those who want to free their software as well as their souls, but it turns out to be both godly and down-to-earth (found via @latentexistence):

Churchix is a face recognition event attendance desktop application. Churchix identifies event attending members in videos and photos. All you need to do is enrol high quality photos of your members into the software data base, then connect a live video USB camera or upload recorded videos or photos — and Churchix will identify your members!

Nothing remotely creepy about your church attendance being recorded automatically, of course, since presumably notes are being kept in more ethereal spheres anyway. But if you’re not convinced, the makers of Churchix, Skakash, have more secular locations where you could deploy its facial recognition system. As well as obvious ones like airports and border areas, other possible uses include in casinos, where Skakash suggests there are three classes of people you might want to track: blacklisted individuals, employees and VIPs.

That’s a rather telling categorization, because it basically says it doesn’t matter whether you are an unwelcome or welcome visitor, or simply there as an employee, the system is designed to keep an eye on you, all the time. That’s a hint of where things might be going: a world where everyone is tracked using facial recognition in commercial and public spaces, not just the criminals. The recent walkout by privacy organizations from multi-stakeholder talks because of a failure by companies using face recognition to agree to any privacy-protective code of conduct shows that it will probably take a miracle to avoid that fate.

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Companies: churchix

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Comments on “Churchix: The Face Recognition Event Attendance Desktop Application You've Been Praying For?”

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testcore (profile) says:

Likely GPL violation

If it really is a linux-based distro (their site is short on details on that front), the fact that it appears they’re not distributing the source would mean that they’re violating the GPL.

Also note that the “Terms of Use” in the footer, which might actually describe their use of the GPL, is not actually a link, and there are no accessible ToS.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

I suspect facial accessories laced with superbright strobing LEDs...

…just outside the spectrum of human vision (infrared and ultraviolent) may become a big thing. Currently they’re the instrument by which activists fool police facial recognition devices, since cameras often use a broader spectrum in order to detect and enhance details.

Also, Hollywood’s make-up teams are skilled enough to turn people into completely different people. That technology will rapidly bleed out into the mainstream, especially to blacklisters who are specifically at events to cause trouble and are willing to invest time and money into countermeasures.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: I suspect facial accessories laced with superbright strobing LEDs...

“Hollywood’s make-up teams are skilled enough to turn people into completely different people.”

But remember what face recognition software is looking at is features that aren’t easily obscured with makeup: the distance between eyes and proportions between prominent structural features.

You don’t need a full-on Hollywood style makeup job. A few well-place prostheses would do the job.

TRX (profile) says:

I’m pretty sure I ran into something similar at a chain restaurant a year ago. A friend and I have lunch there occasionally. On that particular visit, it had been more than six months since we had been there.

When the waitress took our order I started to tell her how I wanted my sandwich prepared. She broke in and rattled off my usual extensive substitutions and additions. I said OK.

It’s a high-traffic restaurant, they have a high employee turnover, it had been more than six months since I’d been in there, I’m not particularly memorable, and I’m pretty sure I’d never seen that waitress before. And I’m a cash customer; they’ve never had my name.

I figured a simple system could be pieced together out of off-the-shelf software. With a hit, the server knows your previous orders and tipping percentage before she comes to your table. If you’ve paid by card, she knows your name. Personalized service is likely to boost customer satisfaction and create more visits.

It wouldn’t have to be 100% accurate, just good enough to give the waitstaff an edge.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s more likely that restaurant is IDing customers based on the WiFi beacons from their phones than face recognition (I say based purely on the fact that this has been common practice with larger companies for years now).

“ersonalized service is likely to boost customer satisfaction and create more visits.”

Maybe, but personally I can guarantee that if I notice that a place is doing this sort of thing, I would never set foot in that place again.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: I don't see a problem with a place using biometrics or other devices to ID customers...

…in order to create a better or more consistent experience.

The problem is when that information isn’t recognized as privileged, private information and sold to / given to / stolen by third parties for further use.

Google was entirely based on collecting private information and then using it in reasonably benign ways. The problem is that even if the Google itself was able to not abuse that power (which it hasn’t — not entirely) it created a database that was too attractive for other parties such as the state.

It’s one of those problems for which we need a (presently elusive) solution. Though Google’s step in salting the database is a big one.

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