Category Archives: Technology

Mapped: The State Of Facial Recognition Around The World

From public CCTV cameras to biometric identification systems in airports, facial recognition technology is now common in a growing number of places around the world.

In its most benign form, facial recognition technology is a convenient way to unlock your smartphone. However, as Visual Capitalist’s Iman Ghosh notesat the state level, facial recognition is a key component of mass surveillance, and it already touches half the global population on a regular basis.

Today’s visualizations from SurfShark classify 194 countries and regions based on the extent of surveillance.

Click here to explore the full research methodology.

Let’s dive into the ways facial recognition technology is used across every region.

North America, Central America, and Caribbean

In the U.S., a 2016 study showed that already half of American adults were captured in some kind of facial recognition network. More recently, the Department of Homeland Security unveiled its “Biometric Exit” plan, which aims to use facial recognition technology on nearly all air travel passengers by 2023, to identify compliance with visa status.

Perhaps surprisingly, 59% of Americans are actually in favor of implementing facial recognition technology, considering it acceptable for use in law enforcement according to a Pew Research survey. Yet, some cities such as San Francisco have pushed to ban surveillance, citing a stand against its potential abuse by the government.

Facial recognition technology can potentially come in handy after a natural disaster. After Hurricane Dorian hit in late summer of 2019, the Bahamas launched a blockchain-based missing persons database “FindMeBahamas” to identify thousands of displaced people.

South America

The majority of facial recognition technology in South America is aimed at cracking down on crime. In fact, it worked in Brazil to capture Interpol’s second-most wanted criminal.

Home to over 209 million, Brazil soon plans to create a biometric database of its citizens. However, some are nervous that this could also serve as a means to prevent dissent against the current political order.

Europe

Belgium and Luxembourg are two of only three governments in the world to officially oppose the use of facial recognition technology.

Further, 80% of Europeans are not keen on sharing facial data with authorities. Despite such negative sentiment, it’s still in use across 26 European countries to date.

The EU has been a haven for unlawful biometric experimentation and surveillance.

– European Digital Rights (EDRi)

In Russia, authorities have relied on facial recognition technology to check for breaches of quarantine rules by potential COVID-19 carriers. In Moscow alone, there are reportedly over 100,000 facial recognition enabled cameras in operation.

Middle East and Central Asia

Facial recognition technology is widespread in this region, notably for military purposes.

In Turkey, 30 domestically-developed kamikaze drones will use AI and facial recognition for border security. Similarly, Israel has a close eye on Palestinian citizens across 27 West Bank checkpoints.

In other parts of the region, police in the UAE have purchased discreet smart glasses that can be used to scan crowds, where positive matches show up on an embedded lens display. Over in Kazakhstan, facial recognition technology could replace public transportation passes entirely.

East Asia and Oceania

In the COVID-19 battle, contact tracing through biometric identification became a common tool to slow the infection rates in countries such as China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore. In some instances, this included the use of facial recognition technology to monitor temperatures as well as spot those without a mask.

That said, questions remain about whether the pandemic panopticon will stop there.

China is often cited as a notorious use case of mass surveillance, and the country has the highest ratio of CCTV cameras to citizens in the world—one for every 12 people. By 2023, China will be the single biggest player in the global facial recognition market. And it’s not just implementing the technology at home–it’s exporting too.

Africa

While the African continent currently has the lowest concentration of facial recognition technology in use, this deficit may not last for long.

Several African countries, such as Kenya and Uganda, have received telecommunications and surveillance financing and infrastructure from Chinese companies—Huawei in particular. While the company claims this has enabled regional crime rates to plummet, some activists are wary of the partnership.

Whether you approach facial recognition technology from public and national security lens or from an individual liberty perspective, it’s clear that this kind of surveillance is here to stay.

“Nothing Like This Has Happened Before”: China To Invest $1 Trillion In New Plan To Overtake US In Tech

As we have been writing since late 2018, when it comes to the technological arms race between the US and China, one place where China has been badly lagging the US, is in the production of semiconductors, which is also China’s biggest weakness in its ongoing scramble to catch up with the US technologically.

China’s media agrees: over the weekend, we quoted from a Global Times op-ed according to which “although the US had experienced a large-scale deindustrialization in the second half of the 20th century, it still maintains advantages in the semiconductor sector with companies such as Intel, which could complete the whole process of the chip design to producing. The country has held on to cutting-edge semiconductor manufacturing techniques over the past decade.”

And now that the cold war between the US and China is about as formal as it can get, China has decided it can no longer rely on the US for being its primary source of high-end technology, and according to Bloomberg, Beijing is accelerating its bid for global leadership in key technologies, and will pump more than a trillion dollars into the economy “through the rollout of everything from wireless networks to artificial intelligence.”

Purposefully invoking the spirit of “Made in China 2025”, a plan that has in the past infuriated the White House, China’s strategic “masterplan” is backed by President Xi Jinping himself, and will see China invest an estimated $1.4 trillion over six years to 2025, “calling on urban governments and private tech giants like Huawei Technologies to lay fifth generation wireless networks, install cameras and sensors, and develop AI software that will underpin autonomous driving to automated factories and mass surveillance.”

This also means that while pursuing China’s plans to reinvent its technological base and to restructure its entire semiconductor supply chain, Beijing will also create the supreme police state dystopia, one which is even more powerful than the current iteration.

Predictably, the new infrastructure initiative is expected to rely on local giants from Alibaba and Huawei to SenseTime Group while shunning U.S. companies. And as Bloomberg adds, “as tech nationalism mounts, the investment drive will reduce China’s dependence on foreign technology, echoing objectives set forth previously in the Made in China 2025 program. Such initiatives have already drawn fierce criticism from the Trump administration, resulting in moves to block the rise of Chinese tech companies such as Huawei.”

“Nothing like this has happened before, this is China’s gambit to win the global tech race,” said Digital China Holdings Chief Operating Officer Maria Kwok, as she sat in a Hong Kong office surrounded by facial recognition cameras and sensors.

“Starting this year, we are really beginning to see the money flow through.”

Maria Kwok’s company is a government-backed systems integration provider, among many that are jumping at the chance. In the southern city of Guangzhou, Digital China is bringing half a million units of project housing online, including a complex three quarters the size of Central Park. To find a home, a user just has to log on to an app, scan their face and verify their identity. Leases can be signed digitally via smartphone and the renting authority is automatically flagged if a tenant’s payment is late.

The tech investment push is part of a broader fiscal package waiting to be signed off by China’s legislature, which convenes this week. The government is expected to announce infrastructure funding of as much as $563 billion this year, against the backdrop of the country’s worst economic performance since the Mao era. It will also include an expansion in the PLA’s budget to contain the “growing threat of US conflict“, as we discussed last night.

As Vital Knowledge points out in a note on Wednesday afternoon, “depending on how Beijing frames its tech ambitions around the NPC, this $1T+ blueprint could draw the ire of the White House and spur further measures aimed at inhibiting Chinese IT firms (recall the White House pushed hard for China to drop its prior “Made in China 2025” tech plan).”

Microsoft Patent 060606 – Body interfaced digital currency

Conspiracy Theories

Microsoft Patent 060606 – Body interfaced digital currency

I don’t think anything else needs to be said. Do your own research and draw your own conclusions.

What are the chances a device on the body that is used for digital translations would have a patent number 060606?

Also, Microsoft patented this on March 26th of this year.

The full patent id is WO/2020/060606.

Diagram Cryptocurrency Patent

From the Patent:

“Human body activity associated with a task provided to a user may be used in a mining process of a cryptocurrency system. A server may provide a task to a device of a user which is communicatively coupled to the server. A sensor communicatively coupled to or comprised in the device of the user may sense body activity of the user. Body activity data may be generated based on the sensed body activity of the user. The cryptocurrency system communicatively coupled to the device of the user may verify if the body activity data satisfies one or more conditions set by the cryptocurrency system, and award cryptocurrency to the user whose body activity data is verified.”

Okay, this is creepy. Mark of the beast?

But read for yourself. Here is the link to the patent: