CCTV + Lip-Reading Software = Even Less Privacy, Even More Surveillance

from the HAL-would-be-proud dept

Techdirt has written a number of stories about facial recognition software being paired with CCTV cameras in public and private places. As the hardware gets cheaper and more powerful, and the algorithms underlying recognition become more reliable, it's likely that the technology will be deployed even more routinely. But if you think loss of public anonymity is the end of your troubles, you might like to think again:

Lip-reading CCTV software could soon be used to capture unsuspecting customer's private conversations about products and services as they browse in high street stores.

Security experts say the technology will offer companies the chance to collect more "honest" market research but privacy campaigners have described the proposals as "creepy" and "completely irresponsible".

That story from the Sunday Herald in Scotland focuses on the commercial "opportunities" this technology offers. It's easy to imagine the future scenarios as shop assistants are primed to descend upon people who speak favorably about goods on sale, or who express a wish for something that is not immediately visible to them. But even more troubling are the non-commercial uses, for example when applied to CCTV feeds supposedly for "security" purposes.

How companies and law enforcement use CCTV+lip-reading software will presumably be subject to legislation, either existing or introduced specially. But given the lax standards for digital surveillance, and the apparent presumption by many state agencies that they can listen to anything they are able to grab, it would be na&iumlve to think they won't deploy this technology as much as they can. In fact, they probably already have.

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  1. icon
    JoeCool (profile), 28 Aug 2017 @ 5:38pm

    Why am I not surprised?

    Of course, it's the UK.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 6:35pm

    Just wait, it will get worse

    Tech has already been developed to watch your pupil dilation in response to visual images to determine your sexual orientation. Ads will start outing people that have not outed themselves yet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 28 Aug 2017 @ 6:37pm

    Aaaaannd lip-reading software means that your speech is stored as searchable text in a database. Linked to you via your purchases or through facial recognition.

    Then sold to information brokers who will monetize it by using it to advise others on whether you should be granted a loan or a job.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 6:56pm

    Looks like sunglasses and surgical face masks will become the norm for everyone now, eh?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    JoeCool (profile), 28 Aug 2017 @ 7:04pm

    Re:

    I would think these would work better, and it fits the nation!

    http://imgur.com/gallery/spOLqgM

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 7:58pm

    Market Push

    This is how retail outlets like Walmart can help out poor little Amazon and other web retails. Make customers feel even more uncomfortable in the store.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Machin Shin, 28 Aug 2017 @ 9:08pm

    Re:

    I was just thinking "Oh great, next thing you know there will be the 'hacker lip balm'"

    I guess wearing a surgical mask is much easier than coming up with some other way to trick it. Although part of me still wants to see the guy walking around with bright glittery lipstick on to mess with the cameras.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    JoeCool (profile), 28 Aug 2017 @ 9:44pm

    Re: Market Push

    It's to encourage you to use their drone delivery service.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    tin-foil-hat, 28 Aug 2017 @ 10:05pm

    Sars Mask

    Maybe we'll need to wear them so that we can talk to one another and prevent the transmission of communicable diseases.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 10:55pm

    We'll have to name the system.

    May I suggest Hal 9000?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), 29 Aug 2017 @ 12:30am

    Re: Re:

    It's already a thing. Now it might become a big thing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 12:43am

    Re: Re:

    Ventrilliquism as an art has given me the ability to lip in spanish while actually communicating in english with a french accent.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 1:45am

    Wait until the Walmart stores close as stores and become centers for rfid implantations. Then we can talk uncomfortable..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 1:53am

    Re: We'll have to name the system.

    Hal 9000 only looked like it worked.. in real life Hal was a pencil sharpener.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    MyNameHere (profile), 29 Aug 2017 @ 2:43am

    Let's actually break this story down to it's parts, shall we? Let's run it against against non-tech versions of the same thing to see what it really means.

    First and foremost, anyone practiced in the art of lip reading can figure out what you are saying. So nothing new under the sun here. It's been going on for centuries, from what I gather.

    CCTV? Been around for a very long time, and it's really only a technology improvement over an observant police officer. Again, nothing new under the sun, police men (and women) have stood on the corner watching things for a very long time indeed.

    So what we in fact have here isn't anything new except for "technology allows it / does it faster / better / more". Yet, it has been a standard argument around these parts of years that (as an example) piracy is something you have to live with because technology allows it. You get the good with the bad, right?

    It's all of the benefits of technology, and all it's doing is what was already done, just an a much higher volume and potential.

    See the "IoT spying" story for more. Basically, you give up more about yourself willingly than anyone will scoop off of you in this manner. Worry about the big stuff, not the details!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Ninja (profile), 29 Aug 2017 @ 5:57am

    Re:

    lol seriously? You started well and derailed and crashed spectacularly in the middle of the 3rd phrase. That was entertaining.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    Ninja (profile), 29 Aug 2017 @ 5:59am

    A while back they started getting lip-reading experts to find out what soccer players, coaches and judges/arbiters were saying during the match. Nowadays they don't bother because everybody covers their mouths with their hands when they are going to speak with somebody in the field. Except of course when they are shouting profanities.

    We should take the cue.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    DannyB (profile), 29 Aug 2017 @ 6:01am

    Bad Lip Reading

    If you look on YouTube for Bad Lip Reading, you can find some comically hilarious results. You can clearly see the video of the person, often a famous or well known person, with their lips moving. The audio is the "bad lip reading" person saying something completely different, that just happens to fit perfectly with the video of the person's mouth and lips.

    If software lip reading is used against someone, they could argue that they said something different.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 6:54am

    Re:

    I think I'll start muttering randomly when I'm out shopping too.

    "shite" "what a load of pish" "I wish Donald Trump was here"

    That last one will really confuse them when I'm buying women's underwear.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    Zgaidin (profile), 29 Aug 2017 @ 7:00am

    Sad Trombone

    CCTV + Lip Reading Software + Facial Recognition Software + Third Party Doctrine = No More Privacy in Public places

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Canuck, 29 Aug 2017 @ 7:03am

    Re:

    Obvious troll is obvious.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 9:23am

    Re: Re:

    Bet it won't!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 9:26am

    Why not record audio?

    If you want to spy on everyone's conversations, microphones would be the obvious way. Is this some kind of workaround because recording audio would be illegal?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 9:34am

    Is the lip reading software targeting. only English verbage or will it also include Russian, Chinese, Iranian, Pakastani, and Arabic?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. icon
    stderric (profile), 29 Aug 2017 @ 10:29am

    Re:

    Eventually, our governments will turn us all into 'Ted Kaczynski, DDS'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. icon
    stderric (profile), 29 Aug 2017 @ 10:40am

    Does exposing yourself to nuclear waste give you telepathy, or just x-ray vision and superhuman strength? Because telepathy would be handy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 11:13am

    Now we also have to be ventriloquists.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 11:15am

    Re: Just wait, it will get worse

    Among many other reasons that is why many of us don't watch ads, block youtube ads, use adblockers, and evade any kind of publicity and propaganda like the plague, even on the street.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 11:19am

    Re:

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 11:20am

    Re:

    Sunglasses and chewing gum will make the trick.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 11:23am

    Re:

    I see, that is why everybody is chewing gum these days.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 2:44pm

    Re: We'll have to name the system.

    Spoilers. Spoilers everywhere.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 29 Aug 2017 @ 3:55pm

    Re: Re: We'll have to name the system.

    Just so. Have some sympathy for those of us waiting for the copyright to run out before viewing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. identicon
    TRX302, 29 Aug 2017 @ 6:38pm

    Ain't skeered...

    After many years I finally bought hearing aids. After several sessions of tuning with the audiologist, I realized that the continuing problem wasn't my hearing, which is now fine, but that most people can't speak intelligible English.

    They speak in sentence fragments, use wrong words, use wrong vowels in words, mispronounce words, omit words, bark random syllables, or just make a barely-modulated whine. And now that I can hear surrounding conversations, a surprising amount consists of "eh?" and "what?"

    If "they" actually have software that can make sense of that gibberish, I'd be interested in buying a copy...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 6:47pm

    Re:

    Calm your tits, NSA fanboy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. icon
    PaulT (profile), 30 Aug 2017 @ 2:31am

    "It's easy to imagine the future scenarios as shop assistants are primed to descend upon people who speak favorably about goods on sale, or who express a wish for something that is not immediately visible to them"

    Well, that would be one more reason not to go shopping in a brick & mortar store. I avoid sale assistants like the plague they are at the best of times, I don't need them having more reason to come and bother me.

    Part of me also wonders how this kind of technology differentiates between languages. I can imagine that if I'm in a store in UK with a Spanish friend and we switch languages during the conversation, as we often do, that would either raise red flags or have the reader think we said something we didn't.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37. icon
    PaulT (profile), 30 Aug 2017 @ 2:33am

    Re:

    It would be nice if you didn't have to make shit up about what other people say to have an argument to excrete out. But, you find the need constantly, it's pretty sad.

    If only you could retrieve the time and effort you wasted on lies to address the points being discussed in reality.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38. icon
    PaulT (profile), 30 Aug 2017 @ 2:34am

    Re: Re:

    No, it was a poor start as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2017 @ 10:12am

    There are a number of states where audio recording is illegal in a wide variety of situations. Automated lip-reading isn't audio, but may violate the intent of those laws...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40. identicon
    DOlz, 30 Aug 2017 @ 12:01pm

    Time to stop trimming my mustache.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2017 @ 2:26am

    All innovative surveillance technologies should be trialed via publicly accessible versions recording all interactions between lobbyists and members of parliament. Then following the trial, the parliamentarians can vote whether its a good idea or not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42. icon
    btr1701 (profile), 4 Sep 2017 @ 11:33am

    Re: Why not record audio?

    > If you want to spy on everyone's conversations, microphones would be the
    > obvious way. Is this some kind of workaround because recording audio would
    > be illegal?

    Yep. In many states, consent of both parties-- the recorder and the recordee must be obtained before audio can be captured legally. (That's why you get all those annoying disclaimers about "this call may be recorded for quality control purposes" when you phone a business. They're giving you the chance to decline consent and hang up if you don't want to be recorded.)

    But those laws don't apply to video so long as there's no audio captured at the same time. This system doesn't record audio-- the computer reads the video images of lips moving-- so it gives all the benefit of an audio recording with none of the legal liability.

    Of course, most people move around when they talk, so the odds are you'll only get an incomplete conversation as a person's lips turn away from the camera and/or the person they're talking to has their back to the camera.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43. icon
    btr1701 (profile), 4 Sep 2017 @ 11:36am

    Re:

    > There are a number of states where audio recording is illegal in a wide
    > variety of situations. Automated lip-reading isn't audio, but may violate the
    > intent of those laws...

    Perhaps, but you can't be convicted for violating the intent of a law. You can only be convicted for violating the law. And if the law says 'audio', then this sort of thing doesn't qualify, even if the results are what the law was trying to avoid.

    The solution is for the legislature to amend the law to include lip-reading of video, whether automated or done by human, to law requiring two-party consent.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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