from the StasiTV dept
Facial recognition software is the wave of the
future present. The FBI -- acting without a required Privacy Impact Assessment -- rolled out its system in 2014, finding that a 20% false hit rate was good enough for government (surveillance) work.
Following in the footsteps of Facebook, governments slanting towards the authoritarian side (that's you, Russia!) have deployed facial recognition software to help ensure its citizens are stripped of their anonymity.
Other governments not so seemingly bent on obedience to the state have done the same. UK law enforcement has quietly built a huge facial recognition database and Brazil experimented with police equipment that would turn officers into Robocops -- providing real-time facial recognition to cops via some sort of Google Glass-ish headgear. If what we know about facial recognition software's accuracy rates holds true, the goggles will, indeed, do nothing.
Germany has maintained an arm's-length relationship with its troublesome past. The Stasi and Gestapo's lingering specters still haunt current legislators, occasionally prompting them to curb domestic surveillance efforts. Concerns for the privacy of its citizens has also sometimes resulted in the government making angry noises at tech companies it feels are overstepping their boundaries.
Four years ago, it demanded Facebook destroy data on German citizens in its facial recognition database. Judging from the current push by German officials, it could just be thata the government didn't want any competition.
Speaking to the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, [Interior Minister] Thomas de Maiziere said internet software was able to determine whether people shown in photographs were celebrities or politicians.
"I would like to use this kind of facial recognition technology in video cameras at airports and train stations. Then, if a suspect appears and is recognised, it will show up in the system," he told the paper.
This move towards a more Stasi-esque surveillance system is, of course, prompted by recent terrorist attacks in Germany. Nothing propels bad legislation and lowers the price on domestic surveillance real estate more efficiently than tragedies -- especially those "claimed" after-the-fact by members of the Islamic State.
For those more concerned with lonely baggage, the government is all over that, too.
He said a similar system was already being tested for unattended luggage, which the camera reports after a certain number of minutes.
The lesson here is never forget where you set down your duffel bag -- unless you like watching it being detonated by security teams from a safe distance.
As for the dystopian future awaiting Germans as their government does all it can to help the terrorists win, the Interior Minister offers this shrug of a statement:
"We will have to get used to increased security measures, such as longer queues, stricter checks or personal entry cards. This is tedious, uncomfortable and costs time but I don't think it's a limitation of personal freedom," he said.
Longer lines and more "papers, please" -- just the sort of thing that will push memories of Nazi Germany and the Berlin Wall into the background.