Biometrics

News & Analysis

Can the masks that we now wear to protect each other from Covid-19 also protect our anonymity, preventing the latest mass facial recognition systems from identifying us? The short answer is 'no, most probably not'.

17 Apr 2021
Russian authorities are using facial recognition to track opposition protesters to their homes and arrest them, though the cameras are often turned off or "malfunctioning" when state security agents are suspected of attacks on or murders of journalists and opposition activists. The data is gathered
03 Jun 2020
When Dallas police posted on Twitter asking for videos of the protests taking place after George Floyd's killing, a flood of videos and images of K-pop stars were uploaded to its anonymous iWatch Dallas tip-off app. Law enforcement can call on vast numbers of networked cameras - from cars, food and
11 Jun 2020
Human rights activists and Democratic members of the US Congress wrote to top law enforcement officials in the Trump administration to demand they cease surveilling Americans engaging in peaceful protests. Trump and others in his administration called those protesting the killing of George Floyd
01 Jun 2020
During the Black Lives Matter protests of summer 2020, US police took advantage of a lack of regulation and new technologies to expand the scope of people and platforms they monitor; details typically emerge through lawsuits, public records disclosures, and stories released by police department PR
Video

This week we talk to Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights & Counter-Terrorism, Nina Dewi Toft Djanegara about biometrics in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Keren Weitzberg about uses in Somalia and Palestine.

29 Apr 2020
Amazon has spent $10 million to buy 1,500 cameras to take the temperature of workers from the Chinese firm Zhejiang Dahua Technology Company even though the US previously blacklisted Dahua because it was alleged to have helped China detain and monitor the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. The
25 Apr 2020
The automated facial recognition company Clearview AI has suggested to US federal and state authorities that its facial biometrics could leverage cameras already in place at gyms and retailers in order to identify individuals in the interests of contact tracing. Simultaneously, the company is asking
16 Apr 2020
Liechtenstein is the first European country to use biometric electronic bracelets to implement a real time coronavirus tracking programme. The bracelet, which sends skin temperature, breathing, and pulse, among other metrics, for analysis in a Swiss lab, is being offered to 5% of the population. The
27 Mar 2020
An Accra High Court has ruled that the National Identification Authority can continue registering Ghanaians after two citizens filed a case arguing that continued registration violates the social distancing directive issued by president Akufo-Addo. However, a different division of the High Court
31 Mar 2020
To help the UK's Department for Work and Pensions handle the more than half a million applications the department received in the last two weeks of March, the identity verification company Nomidio, a subsidiary of Post-Quantum, is offering its service free of charge. The service would enable a
07 Apr 2020
British biometric start-ups are helping the UK government create digital passports. VST Enterprises is providing a biometrics-backed digital health care passport, V-COVID, to help critical NHS and emergency services workers get back to work; the passport will incorporate test results and be included
14 Apr 2020
Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte has exempted survey teams and National ID system registrars from lockdown rules on the basis that they are essential to providing cash distributions and other government responses intended to soften the impact of the community quarantine. Duterte argued that the
16 Apr 2020
New versions of drones that currently issue audio warnings reminding people in Elizabeth, New Jersey to observe social distancing guidelines will incorporate sensors and fever-detecting cameras that will monitor if people are sick or failing to social distance on the trails and in the parks of
30 Mar 2020
The Guangzhou Public Transportation Group has installed a biometric tablet next to bus drivers' seats so they can check the temperature and identity of every passenger who boards. The tablets will also photograph each passenger, allowing them to be identified by China's facial recognition network in
07 Apr 2020
The Bangladeshi start-up Sigmind.ai has developed the WATCHCAM Mass Surveillance System, which it claims can recognise individuals even when they're wearing a mask with 87.3% accuracy - and 99.4% if they're not wearing a mask. The company began developing the system in 2019 to provide ATM security