Ramblings & ephemera

Face recognition software as an example of “function creep”

From Technology Review‘s’ “Creepy Functions“:

Consider one example of function creep. The Electoral Commission of Uganda has retained Viisage Technology to implement a face recognition system capable of enrolling 10 million voters in 60 days. The goal is to reduce voter registration fraud. But Woodward notes that the system might also be put to work fingering political opponents of the regime. And Uganda probably isn’t the first country that springs to mind when someone says “due process” or “civil rights.”

From Technology Review‘s’ “Big Brother Logs On“:

Take the fact that the faces of a large portion of the driving population are becoming digitized by motor vehicles agencies and placed into databases, says Steinhardt. It isn’t much of a stretch to extend the system to a Big Brother-like nationwide identification and tracking network. Or consider that the Electoral Commission of Uganda has retained Viisage Technology to implement a “turnkey face recognition system” capable of enrolling 10 million voter registrants within 60 days. By generating a database containing the faceprint of every one of the country’s registered voters-and combining it with algorithms able to scour all 10 million images within six seconds to find a match-the commission hopes to reduce voter registration fraud. But once such a database is compiled, notes John Woodward, a former CIA operations officer who managed spies in several Asian countries and who’s now an analyst with the Rand Corporation, it could be employed for tracking and apprehending known or suspected political foes. Woodward calls that “function creep.”

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