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Keeping the people of China safe: [2]

Railway police in Zhengzhou, the capital of central China’s Henan province, are the first in the country to start using facial recognition eyewear to screen passengers, the online arm of Party newspaper People’s Daily reported Monday. Security personnel at Zhengzhou East Railway Station donned the new accessories ahead of the Chinese New Year travel rush to help them verify passengers’ identities, spot impostors — and even catch suspected criminals.

Spring Festival, or the lunar new year, is one of the busiest travel periods in China, putting immense pressure on the country’s transportation networks. This year, officials expect more than 389 million train trips alone during the peak travel period from Feb. 1 to March 12, when people return home for the holidays.

The glasses — which resemble Google Glass — are connected to a police database that can match passengers with criminal suspects. Since Zhengzhou railway police started using the eyewear earlier this year, they have identified seven people suspected of crimes ranging from human trafficking to hit-and-run accidents, according to the report.


In a similar move, train stations in major Chinese cities including Zhengzhou introduced a “face-swiping” check-in service during the lunar new year holiday in 2017. Similar to e-passport services at airports, small kiosks at boarding areas use facial recognition technology to scan passengers and their travel documents in just a few seconds.

China has pursued an ambitious plan to develop its AI sector in recent years, with police departments across the country implementing facial recognition technology. Shanghai has used it to identify and fine traffic violators, while in coastal Qingdao, facial recognition helped police arrest dozens of suspected criminals at the city’s famous beer festival.

If you don’t allow your face to be scanned, you will not be able to travel, it would appear. Hmm.

State police can stand outside of churches and usual facial recognition software to determine who is going into them and coming out of them, you know.

And if the Chinese have this technology, how long before it is introduced into the US, under the pretext of keeping the public safe? How long will it be before certain religious and political beliefs are deemed “unsafe” to the public, and those who espouse them monitored?

How many Americans would support it? I think we’d be surprised.

This stuff writes itself — on the wall, with an invisible finger. [3]

31 Comments (Open | Close)

31 Comments To "Google-Gestapo-Glasses"

#1 Comment By Curious On February 10, 2018 @ 11:07 am

Our license plates are already scanned by both govt and commercial ( mall owners).

#2 Comment By Jonathan M Scinto On February 10, 2018 @ 11:42 am

This is the kind of thing you would see in a cyberpunk novel or movie.

And now here it is, in the real world.

#3 Comment By evw On February 10, 2018 @ 11:46 am

Good grief! It’s “They Live” in real life.

#4 Comment By Bob On February 10, 2018 @ 11:56 am

Eventually everything becomes acceptable, even welcomed, by the “I’ve got nothing to hide” crowd. Criticizing it usually elicits microaggresive responses like “what, are you a criminal?”. Many people seem to fail to realize that laws are created by people. Like people, there are good laws and bad laws, and in today’s environment the bad is winning and growing exponentially.

I live in Europe, and a new wave of restrictive laws is being introduced at a dizzying pace. In Poland there are more such laws now than there were under “communism”. It’s only going to get worse.

#5 Comment By AB On February 10, 2018 @ 12:00 pm

And if the Chinese have this technology, how long before it is introduced into the US, under the pretext of keeping the public safe?

How long? Why, just recently it was announced that The Department of Homeland Security is putting together a nationwide system of license plate readers. It will identify individual cars all over the country and by extension their owners; who are usually the drivers. This is not facial recognition, but the Chinese walk and take the train where Americans drive. Still, it is essentially the same. You can’t move without Big Brother being aware. Big Brother can always find you.


#6 Comment By grumpy realist On February 10, 2018 @ 12:04 pm

And I suspect that the Chinese don’t worry that much about false positives, either….just as long as the track-down-the-criminal-quota is filled.

#7 Comment By JohnE_o On February 10, 2018 @ 12:06 pm

>How long will it be before certain religious and political beliefs are deemed “unsafe” to the public, and those who espouse them monitored?

I’m pretty sure that’s being done now. Nation of Islam, Aryan supremacist churches, anarchist movements, that sort of thing.

I suspect I could make a similar setup using OpenCV and my campus surveillance system. Would be a interesting project.

#8 Comment By charles cosimano On February 10, 2018 @ 12:09 pm

Once again it is proven that the Chinese have no taste in hats. The sunglasses are fine but the hat has to go.

I’m sure there is a tech way to render the system useless but I’m not enough of a geek to figure it out.

#9 Comment By rjohnson On February 10, 2018 @ 12:14 pm

You are a touch late on this one, Rod.


Before passengers approached the airline gate agent, the customs officer, Sung Hyun Ha, scanned their travel documents at a kiosk, which was also equipped with a camera. The photograph taken was matched against a facial scan that foreign visitors submitted to Customs and Border Protection when they entered the country or from their visa application, while the passenger’s identification also was checked against law enforcement and intelligence databases.


Soon, it may be hard for visa holders to board an international flight without submitting to a facial geometry scan. Customs and Border Protection began testing facial recognition systems at Dulles Airport in 2015, then expanded the tests to New York’s JFK Airport last year. Face-reading check-in kiosks will be appearing at Ottawa International Airport this spring, and British Airways is rolling out a similar system at London’s Heathrow Airport, comparing faces captured at security screenings with a separate capture at the boarding gate. Now, a new project is poised to bring those same systems to every international airport in America.

But hey…if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear, right?

#10 Comment By Adamant On February 10, 2018 @ 12:54 pm

“How many Americans would support it? I think we’d be surprised.“

I hope you recall the recent “Google Arts And Culture” craze from a few weeks ago. If you wanted many tens of millions of people to gleefully sign up to provide images of their face, correlated to their social media profiles, that would be how you would do it.

I’m also sure that everyone has diligently read the T&C’s, indicating who owns that data. ?

We’re building a panopticon state where everyone is simultaneously warden and inmate.

#11 Comment By Brian Villanueva On February 10, 2018 @ 1:38 pm

I think you’re straining here, Rob. Cops have always used “wanted” lists to be on the lookout for particular people. This is just using a computer to enhance what a cop would already do — looking for people who are wanted for crimes.

You don’t have to be a cop either; this technology is common today. You can stand outside a church, take pictures of the parishioners as they exit, upload them to Google Picasa, and Google will face match them for you. Facebook uses the same technology to tag people in your photos.

Remember, Rod, just because you’re a hammer doesn’t make everything a nail.

#12 Comment By ginger On February 10, 2018 @ 1:39 pm

Facial scanning has been in place at airports in the UAE for a while now. I would not have been allowed into Abu Dhabi had I not agreed to the scanning. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before the US finally adopts the technology, too.

#13 Comment By anon On February 10, 2018 @ 1:46 pm

“If you don’t allow your face to be scanned, you will not be able to travel, it would appear. Hmm.”

Your face is scanned every time you return from abroad. The effort to modernize border security was given a complete dispensation from privacy concerns during the Bush/Cheney years.

The news is that this technology is now miniaturized so that it is a discreet wearable personal device distributed on a broad basis.

#14 Comment By Console On February 10, 2018 @ 2:00 pm

China may be using glasses, but post 9-11 America has been using high tech surveillance and things that sound like they belong in science fiction novels for a while.




#15 Comment By sdb On February 10, 2018 @ 2:09 pm

Given the security theater “we” accept from the TSA in the name of safety, I doubt there would be all that much resistance to using this kind of technology to surveil “extremists” groups. If it saves just one life…

#16 Comment By Matt On February 10, 2018 @ 2:12 pm

Who’s likely to support it in large numbers in the U.S.? White Christians.

Who are they going to blame when such technology is turned on them? Everybody but white Christians.

#17 Comment By charles cosimano On February 10, 2018 @ 5:30 pm

People forget tech is a double-edged sword. How many poor, dumb cops have lost their careers because in court the defense attorney said, “Are you aware that there is video that contradicts your testimony?”

Little Brother can watch back.

#18 Comment By Eric On February 10, 2018 @ 7:26 pm

Anybody else get an ad for prescription glasses?

#19 Comment By Kronsteen1963 On February 10, 2018 @ 10:39 pm

No worry. I’m sure the that Governments will promise “adequate safeguards” – they always promise “safeguards.” So, what could possible go wrong? ?

#20 Comment By Jack B. Nimble On February 11, 2018 @ 7:46 am

I’m slightly disappointed in this comments thread so far.

No one has brought up US constitutional guarantees of privacy. That’s important because conservatives tend to trash the notion of a ‘right to privacy’ in the Constitution; such an implied right was used, for example, by the SC in 1965 to strike down Connecticut’s law against contraception [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penumbra_(law) ].

Some conservatives are OK with the government snooping in bedrooms and medicine cabinets, but are not OK with the government recording license plate numbers that anyone with a smart phone can record.

Personally, I think that the right to privacy in one’s home should be near absolute–to be invaded only with a government warrant. OTOH, it is just common sense that everyone sheds some privacy when they [choose to] go out in public. There is no right to travel anonymously [without ID] by car, train or plane. Even pedestrians can be required to show ID when they enter a hospital or government building, for example.

I’m more worried about commercial invasions of privacy and the fact that some people unwittingly surrender their privacy by using store ‘rewards’ cards, etc. Even peoples’ medical records are being collated and stored by their insurance companies as well as by their health providers. The US government isn’t doing much to penalize companies that mishandle private information [see, e.g., Equifax], and private lawsuits to recover damages are usually not practical.

I suggest that people focus on things they can easily control, like keeping their faces and activities off social media.

#21 Comment By March Hare On February 11, 2018 @ 9:07 am

This technology has been out there for quite a while now. And as one post already noted, what is new is that you can now put it into gnarly looking sunglasses. Law enforcement people worldwide seem to love that look, even on dark cloudy days.

Panopticon is really almost here. What remains to be contested is who has access to the data, and what is to be done with false positives. The best we can hope for is to apply small-r Republican principles, and insist that everybody gets to see the data. Eventually, anyway.

And remember that every technology has countermeasures. I can see a black market developing for on-the-spot injectable Botox, or LIDAR-fooling facial creams. Retina scans will be tougher to spoof, but that is less useful in scanning large numbers of people.

#22 Comment By PubliusII On February 11, 2018 @ 10:34 am

In one of his books or essays, Charles Bowden said something like, “Normal men don’t know that everything is possible.”

(This was not written as an exhortation to try one’s best….)

#23 Comment By CatherineNY On February 11, 2018 @ 11:29 am

Oh my, but please don’t make the mistake of regarding China as an oppressive Communist state, as those nasty neocons like George Weigel do (sarcastic reference to a comment in a previous post).

As for people going willingly into this kind of thing, I have spent quite a bit of time trying to dissuade fellow adoptive parents from putting their children’s DNA into various databases, so that they can “find relatives” in China. They are doing this to young children, who cannot give meaningful consent to having their most private data entered into large commercial databases, which could be breached by hackers from both the private and state sectors. And you don’t think the Chinese government would have an interest in doing so? Dream on. For pointing out these uncomfortable facts. I get vilified as someone who wants to make little children unhappy because they don’t know all of their biological relatives. So yes, people will embrace all sorts of invasive technologies without much thought or investigation.

#24 Comment By Tim On February 11, 2018 @ 4:34 pm

The question in my mind was “how is this prohibited by the constitution?” And according to the case law I would say that under the 4th amendment facial recognition operated by the government is perfectly acceptable since people present their faces to the public everyday. This is Katz v. United States which specifically dealt with whether the government could compel a voice sample which the SCOTUS approved. Unless the 10th amendment is rediscovered and the doctrine of enumerated powers is actually applied then there is no constitutional barrier to facial recognition software.

Also, one commenter compared facial recognition software to wanted posters. This is an appealing analogy but ultimately not sound, in my humble opinion. The courts have always drawn lines of distinction between government action and private actions especially in 4th amendment jurisprudence. Disseminating a wanted poster or security camera pictures of a criminal and then relying on the public to actually do the legwork of finding the person (which is practically always a chance encounter by an informed citizen) is distinguishable from the government operating facial recognition software in public places solely for the purpose of general surveillance. This may not be a distinction courts would make should the issue be litigated but it’s the one I would argue.

#25 Comment By EngineerScotty On February 11, 2018 @ 4:52 pm

It’s safe to say US law enforcement has access to very similar technology, though with some greater restraints on their use.

But with cheap cameras, networks everywhere, and high-powered computers capable of doing real-time image processing tasks that would have taken hours of server time back when I was in college–what did you expect?

Little Brother can watch back.

Don’t count on that. Your scenario only works because we have an independent judiciary which is capable of ordering prisoners released, on various grounds, and seeing the law enforcement apparatus comply. But judges don’t carry guns.

#26 Comment By Console On February 11, 2018 @ 5:48 pm

” There is no right to travel anonymously [without ID] by car, train or plane.”

This is the authoritarian way of reading things. You don’t need something to be a right for it to be out of the government’s reach. The other way to look at it is to state that is that there is no government power to detain and search you absent probable cause or a warrant.

We keep allowing exceptions that chip away at our civil rights (stop and frisk, asset forfeiture, no habeas corpus or Forth Amendment rights at a “border nexus”) but those are exceptions and not plain readings of how the government should be enforcing the law.

The US government used to have a program where they used meta data to profile flight plans. Plans that resembled the routes that drug runners flew were interdicted. Airports with a customs office are considered “borders” so no probable cause is required for the search. And these are domestic flights, not international flights. Since the program had a low success rate and involved pissing off rich white people, it isn’t in use anymore (I guarantee you customs has no problem randomly stopping brown people driving around south Texas though). But things will only get worse as we decide to give customs as much power as possible to detain and harass people. It starts out as on thing (immigration enforcement! War on Terror!) but it always ends up being used against the general population.



#27 Comment By JonF On February 11, 2018 @ 6:27 pm

Re: How many Americans would support it? I think we’d be surprised.

No, not that many people would support something like that. Rod, you are not reckoning with the deeply libertarian (for lack of a better word) streak in American culture.

#28 Comment By Freki On February 11, 2018 @ 8:47 pm

Just look at the Patriot act. Say it will be used to find terrorists or illegal immigrants, and people will be falling all over themselves to get these glasses into the hands of law enforcement.

#29 Comment By hattio On February 11, 2018 @ 9:29 pm

Grumpy Realist says;

“And I suspect that the Chinese don’t worry that much about false positives, either….just as long as the track-down-the-criminal-quota is filled.”

I thought you were going to point out a difference with how it would work if this technology came to American

#30 Comment By Kronsteen1963 On February 12, 2018 @ 1:14 pm

“This stuff writes itself — on the wall, with an invisible finger”

I just got that (I’m kind of slow). Bravo!

#31 Comment By artsandcrafts On February 13, 2018 @ 8:02 am

I am against all surveillance equipment, etc., and agree with others that a lot of it is already in use. I oppose facial-recognition technology, so I guess it’s a good thing that I have never traveled internationally. Something that doesn’t get mentioned as much is how much privacy you have to give up to live in many condo and rental buildings. My impression is that the majority of readers here (and on the predecessor Beliefnet site as well) live in single-family homes that are not in cities. But for some of us, a small condo or rental is the most we will ever be able to afford.

In my current condo building, elevator cameras are due to be installed later this year. A few people on a board of directors can make this decision for a large building. Would most of you shrug this off? This aging, 1960s-era building has had a laundry-room camera and a front-desk camera for quite a while, but they are old. Still, having to walk past those cameras, plus desk staff, is more than I am comfortable with.