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Nightmare Russian facial recognition app is one step closer to the end of privacy

By midian182 · 22 replies
May 17, 2016
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  1. While facial recognition technology has a number of positive uses, such as finding missing people, an alternative form of ID, and even tagging friends on Facebook, it does have worrying implications when it comes to privacy.

    In Russia, a new face recognition app is becoming so popular that it could result in the end of public anonymity, according to a report in The Guardian.

    FindFace, which launched two months ago, lets users take a photo of a crowd and work out individuals' identities with 70 percent reliability. It does this by using image recognition technology to compare faces against profile pictures on Vkontakte, a Facebook-style social media site that has 200 million users.

    The app already boasts 500,000 users and has performed nearly 3 million searches. Though currently limited to Russia, the app’s creators, Artem Kukharenko and Alexander Kabakov, imagine a world where the app is used by everyone to examine strangers’ social network profiles just by taking a photo of them on the street.

    Kabakov has suggested that the app could have applications when it comes to 'dating'. “If you see someone you like, you can photograph them, find their identity, and then send them a friend request,” he said. “It also looks for similar people. So you could just upload a photo of a movie star you like, or your ex, and then find 10 girls who look similar to her and send them messages.” It sounds like creepy stalkers everywhere will soon have a reason to rejoice.

    Other than tracking down Scarlett Johansson lookalikes and harassing random women you find attractive, the app’s already found other uses. The creators are about to sign a deal with the Moscow city government to implement the technology into 150,000 CCTV cameras. Should a crime be committed, the faces of everyone in the area will be checked against photos from various records, including social media sites, to determine if they're a possible suspect.

    FindFace’s Orwellian nightmare scenario is already rearing its head. Recently, the app was used to find the profiles of Russian sex workers and porn actresses so trolls could harass them and send messages to their friends and families. And the fact it’s so popular in Russia, a country not known for respecting the privacy rights of its citizens, is a big concern.

    Kabakov also envisions the technology being used in the retail sector. He talks about a shop CCTV camera capturing a person looking at a product, such as a laptop, and then the retailer identifying the individual and bombarding them with adverts for laptops – probably until they go out and buy one.

    As for the big question of whether the app can access Facebook’s image database: no, it can’t. Not right now, at least. The creators say the US site stores photos in a way that is harder to access than Vkontakte, so lets hope things stay this way.

    In addressing people’s privacy fears, Kabakov goes with the ‘it’s just the way things are, so get used to it’ argument: “In today’s world we are surrounded by gadgets. Our phones, televisions, fridges, everything around us is sending real-time information about us. Already we have full data on people’s movements, their interests and so on. A person should understand that in the modern world he is under the spotlight of technology. You just have to live with that.”

    To discover more about FindFace, check out the video below, which somehow manages to be as sinister as the app itself.

    Permalink to story.

  2. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 3,106   +1,382

    I'm pretty sure anytime the words 'Nightmare' and 'Russian' are used together, we're supposed to be talking about nuclear weapons.

    Again - no, the Orwellian Nightmare scenario involves rats, not apps. Go read the book and you'll know what I mean.

    Bad timing on this privacy violation story too - the US Govt just issued a notice to all the public grade schools and high schools in the country that they no longer should be restricting locker rooms and bathrooms by gender if they want to get federal funding. So as far as privacy is concerned (not to mention overbearing govt control) - no one is going to care about Vkontakte profile pics being used in searches right now.

    (I'm going to go hide now.)
    Reehahs likes this.
  3. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 4,599   +3,059

    I'm thinking the wearing of ski masks and hosiery pulled over the head may be showing up on the runways of the French fashion shows this next season. Now, bundle that with the hack that can turn on your web camera without you even knowing it and you've given big brother a happy holiday that even they could not imagine. Personally, I have mine pointed at a picture on the wall of a "full moon" so the viewer understands MY opinion on the matter!
  4. Danomatic

    Danomatic TS Rookie

    Easily defeated with shaped makeup.
  5. jnoll

    jnoll TS Rookie

    People will quickly learn it is not hard to beat facial recognition. Put a big wad of gum in your cheeks on both sides. There are antisnore products that stretch out your nostrils and change the appearance of your nose from the inside. Glasses. Weight gain or weight loss. Appliances. Hair over the face. Bandage over the nose. DIY hats to avoid viability on cameras. There are ways around this, no worries.
  6. Jessielp

    Jessielp TS Rookie

    Easy solution. Get rid of your social media profiles. You can live without them...
    wiyosaya likes this.
  7. John Keller

    John Keller TS Rookie

    Is it only a "nightmare" if the Russians have it?

    I can assure you the US Federal regime has had this technology for quite some time, which is why they seeded money to Google and Facebook. Facebook, in particular, is the greatest HUMINT project in history, with most of the data derived from voluntarily-given material from the targets themselves.
  8. John Keller

    John Keller TS Rookie

    Too late for many, and, besides, Facebook is known to create "shadow" profiles of known individuals who refuse to join (like me). And whatever Facebook does was done with more depth by the US "intelligence agencies" years ago.

    The Bible's warning about the Mark that all must have to "buy or sell" can no longer be dismissed as myth.
  9. John Keller

    John Keller TS Rookie

    It won't work against all surveillance cameras, but infrared LEDs will "blind" most of them. Rig up headware (ball cap, brimmed cap, whatever works) with infrared LEDs and a battery supply, and you can about in public and not be "seen" by most cameras, nor will others see the infrared emissions. Do a search for infrared led hat or cap for more details on how to do it right.
  10. Then you will be marked as 'a person of interest' and you will get special attention
  11. the Orwellian nightmare has nothing to do with rats, that was Winston Smith's personal phobia reserved for room 101, the Nightmare is the continual personal surveillance where even the expression of your face might reveal you disagree or are unhappy with the regime's unyielding demand for obedience meaning you have committed thoughtcrime and can expect a visit from the secret police.
  12. infiltrator

    infiltrator TS Booster Posts: 171   +31

    Getting rid of your social medial profiles, isn't necessarily deleting them off the servers. they could still be keeping a back of it, somewhere.
    wastedkill likes this.
  13. CC Ryder

    CC Ryder TS Rookie

    Didn't anyone watch "Person of Interest" on tv?
    TheDreams, infiltrator and wastedkill like this.
  14. Reehahs

    Reehahs TS Guru Posts: 720   +456

  15. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 3,106   +1,382

    Yes, rats were his personal phobia. And that makes it his nightmare. Being tortured with your personal phobia until you love your torturers is the nightmare of that book. A nightmare is personal (no one can share your dreams) - in the book it was rats for him, and would have been something else for someone else.

    The book also taught us that changing the way people think starts with language. It's why wealth distribution is disguised as fixing 'income inequality' and illegal aliens are just 'undocumented workers'.

    Personally I feel one of the most dangerous is the use of hyperbole (using BIG words for small things). Trump will say something like "the Cruz campaign was a huge disaster' - no... Hurricane Katrina was a 'huge disaster'. Here in Wisconsin our governor has been called horribly evil and should burn in h3ll for passing a law that gives schools the ability to choose from a few different health plans for their teachers (it's a long story). What words will we have left to describe something evil, if health plan choice is evil? It's dangerous to use the same words for ISIS and for someone who disagrees with Barry Sanders' entitlement plans. It makes people lose perspective.
    bobc4012 and Raoul Duke like this.
  16. complete agreement here, it is very insidious and works over time to have a big effect
  17. infiltrator

    infiltrator TS Booster Posts: 171   +31

    I still watch that TV Show, its one of my favorites...
  18. G.Duerr

    G.Duerr TS Rookie

    Really! If you're starting your war on privacy, you are about 50 years late. Besides privacy is a notion that's only existed for about 150 years. Before that, you either lived in a small town where everybody knew you or you couldn't get a group together big enough to do anything without being noticed.
    Just recently in human history, if you weren't rich, you wouldn't have travelled 300 miles from home during your whole life!
  19. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,165   +3,473

    I have, almost every episode.

    Last Tuesday they had Sarah Shahi, (hot), & Amy Acker, (extremely hot former lingerie model), in a full blown lipstick lesbian love scene. Thank God the cameras were able to film that.(y):)
    infiltrator likes this.
  20. infiltrator

    infiltrator TS Booster Posts: 171   +31

    I wasn't expecting that scene, but man, I really got turned on.
  21. bobc4012

    bobc4012 TS Booster Posts: 95   +41

    Too late. Samaritan is taking over and terminating POI in a few weeks!
  22. bobc4012

    bobc4012 TS Booster Posts: 95   +41

    The "leftisits" of the Democrat party has been doing it for a number of years. They call themselves "liberal", but the Classical definition of "Liberalism" is
    "a political or social philosophy advocating the freedom of the individual, parliamentary systems of government, nonviolent modification of political, social, or economic institutions to assure unrestricted development in all spheres of human endeavor, and governmental guarantees of individual rights and civil liberties."
    As one can readily see, with the "Executive Directives" being issued, and the laws that have been passed when the "leftists" are in control is anything but "liberal" in the classical sense.

    Exactly. Just like the so-called "leftists" in the Democrat party have basterdized the meaning of liberalism. The "classical" definition of liberal
    "A political or social philosophy advocating the freedom of the individual, parliamentary systems of government, nonviolent modification of political, social, or economic institutions to assure unrestricted development in all spheres of human endeavor, and governmental guarantees of individual rights and civil liberties."
    All,, which the current government "executive orders", are against. As Orwell called it, "double-speak". Unfortunately, the ignorant masses haven't a clue and will continue to elect those who advocate those so-called "neo-liberal" policies where the government dictates it knows whats best for you.
  23. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,165   +3,473

    I think you're mistaken. That would be Samaritan's, also an AI, twin sister, "Nielsen"(*), who's cancelling the show.

    Or maybe it was the human, Glenn Geller, who did it.

    (*) Let's call her "Niely" for short....
    Last edited: May 23, 2016

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