Database Your Face: Drones to Employ Facial Recognition, Ending Anonymity
2013-05-29 0:00

By Nicholas West | ActivistPost

In a matter of just a few years, we have gone from drones in American skies being a conspiracy theory, to drones being openly debated by Congress for full deployment over the U.S. by 2015. However, you know things have gone to a new level when establishment media begins covering the full range of privacy-ending capabilities employed by drones matched with biometric databases ... inside America.

A recent Associated Press article, reposted at major corporate media sites such as Business Insider, surprisingly grasps the near totality of what is being planned in much the same way as we have been covering in the alternative media for some time.

Entitled, "Drones With Facial Recognition Technology Will End Anonymity, Everywhere," we are presented with this news as a statement, not a question.

The AP is in fact a bit behind the curve to suggest that the capabilities they highlight, are "to be sure ... in its infancy" when we have documents obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) which reveal that the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection is already operating drones in the United States capable of recognizing a person on the ground. Or how about the fact that drones can already see inside your bedroom? Wiredís Danger Room reported back in 2011 that not only were drones with facial recognition in development, but also algorithms that could predict behavior.

Rather, what we are witnessing with this news from AP is the mainstream rollout and conditioning of the public to what is already here and what is about to become even more pervasive. Once that is accomplished, we can expect the spin machine to go into overdrive and justify the wonders of constant surveillance, as they attempted to do in the Chris Dorner manhunt.

[[READ: Drones May Be Our Only Hope! Manhunt Causes Mayhem, Suspends Reason]]

However, the AP certainly offers a correct summary of how the databases that already exist, where we thought our personal information was protected, will be opened and utilized any time necessary.

From seeing just the image of a face, computers will find its match in a database of millions of driverís license portraits and photos on social media sites. From there, the computer will link to the personís name and details such as their Social Security number, preferences, hobbies, family and friends.

Adding that capability to drones that can fly into spaces where planes cannot ó machines that can track a person moving about and can stay aloft for days ó means that people will give up privacy as well as the concept of anonymity.

Naturally, the AP peddles this softly as it recounts these "new" developments in a tale of researchers with Carnegie Mellon Universityís CyLab Biometrics Center attempting to assist in sharpening FBI images of Boston bombing suspects, the Tsarnaev brothers. This is reminiscent of the above-mentioned Chris Dorner manhunt where we heard calls for how nice it would have been to have a drone at the ready for quicker identification and possible assassination.

In a real-time experiment, the scientists digitally mapped the face of "Suspect 2," turned it toward the camera and enhanced it so it could be matched against a database. The researchers did not know how well they had done until authorities identified the suspect as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger, surviving brother and a student at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

"I was like, íHoly shish kabobs!í " Marios Savvides, director of the CMU Cylab, told the Tribune-Review. "Itís not exactly him, but itís also not a random face. It does fit him."

This astonishment is somewhat absurd considering that drones have already been developed that are equipped with cameras systems like DARPAís Autonomous Real-time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System (ARGUS) seen in the video below. This sensor system can instantly see an area roughly the "size of a small city" with an "all-seeing" eye according to retired Lieutenant, David A. Deptula. The next generation of surveillance tech sees the landscape through a 1.8 billion pixels camera, the highest resolution yet created.

Using a touchscreen interface that can produce up to 65 windows for analysis, military observers can see down to the individual object level to track the movements of vehicles and people. Beyond the real-time surveillance, the system can store everything for future review right down to the minutes and seconds.


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