The arrests spurred a splash of publicity from state media, who are crowning Mr. Cheung--one of the Hong Kong megastars known as the "Four Heavenly Kings"--with a new title: "The Nemesis of Fugitives." China's police departments have been openly touting their use of technology to nab lawbreakers--a campaign that rights activists say is aimed at winning public support for growing state surveillance. Concert organizers in China have also increasingly deployed facial-recognition systems to curb scalping by verifying the identities of ticket-holders. Surveillance companies and local security agencies have experimented with deploying the technology at events around the country in recent years. The tests date back to 2015, when one company, Shenzhen-based Firs Technology Co. Ltd. said its facial-recognition system helped police identify drug-users, fugitives and ex-convicts at a jewelry exhibition in the city of Chenzhou, in central China's Hunan province.
They call Amazon the everything store--and Tuesday, the world learned about one of its lesser-known but provocative products. Police departments pay the company to use facial-recognition technology Amazon says can "identify persons of interest against a collection of millions of faces in real-time." More than two dozen nonprofits wrote to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to ask that he stop selling the technology to police, after the ACLU of Northern California revealed documents to shine light on the sales. The letter argues that the technology will inevitably be misused, accusing the company of providing "a powerful surveillance system readily available to violate rights and target communities of color." The revelation highlights a key question: What laws or regulations govern police use of the facial-recognition technology?
The country's biggest seller of police body cameras on Thursday convened a corporate board devoted to the ethics and expansion of artificial intelligence, a major new step toward offering controversial facial-recognition technology to police forces nationwide. Axon, the maker of Taser electroshock weapons and the wearable body cameras now used by most major American city police departments, has voiced interest in pursuing face recognition for its body-worn cameras. The technology could allow officers to scan and recognize the faces of potentially everyone they see while on patrol. A growing number of surveillance firms and tech start-ups are racing to integrate face recognition and other AI capabilities into real-time video. The board's first meeting will likely presage an imminent showdown over the rapidly developing technology.
Amazon.com pitched its facial-recognition system in the summer to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials as a way for the agency to target or identify immigrants, a move that could shove the tech giant further into a growing debate over the industry's work with the government. The June meeting in Silicon Valley was revealed in emails as part of a Freedom of Information Act request by the advocacy group Project on Government Oversight; the emails were published first in the Daily Beast. They show that officials from ICE and Amazon Web Services talked about implementing the company's Rekognition face-scanning platform to assist with homeland security investigations. An Amazon Web Services official who specializes in federal sales contracts, and whose name was redacted in the emails, wrote that the conversation involved "predictive analytics" and "Rekognition Video tagging/analysis" that could possibly allow ICE to identify people's faces from afar -- a type of technology immigration officials have voiced interest in for its potential enforcement use on the southern border. "We are ready and willing to support the vital (Homeland Security Investigations) mission," the Amazon official wrote.