molly hankwitz on 20 Oct 2000 22:30:46 -0000

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<nettime> press release: protest against face recognition software

[From: Surveillance Camera Players <]

                   Protest Against Face Recognition Software

For immediate release
5 October 2000

 At 1 p.m. on Sunday, 15 October 2000, the Surveillance Camera Players
(SCP) will protest against the manufacture and distribution of face
recognition software by Visionics, a company that has an office in New
Jersey. The protest -- which will take the form of a series of performances
by the SCP -- will take place across from Visionics' office at 1 Exchange
Place, Jersey City. The press and the general public are invited to attend.

 Face recognition software (FRS) is the generic name for computer software
programs that match images captured by surveillance cameras with images
already stored in computerized databases. Though not in use in the United
States at this time, FRS manufactured by Visionics is currently being used
in England, a country in which the mania for closed-circuit television
systems has reached truly sociopathic levels. But England is behind the
times: only now is the country considering an American-style Bill of
Rights! FRS poses a direct threat to the liberties and rights guaranteed by
the First and Fourth Amendments, and we don't want it being used here in
the U.S.A.

 The problem with FRS is that its effectiveness completely depends on the
existence and accessibility of databases of facial images. According to
Visionics' own Web site, the world's databases already contain 1.1 billion
facial images. But FRS won't be effective until each and every person's
face is scanned and uploaded. Otherwise people -- both preferred customers
and unwanted guests -- could walk right by software-enhanced surveillance
cameras without their identity being known.

 Though it might be desirable for certain elements in business and law
enforcement, a complete database of the faces of every single human being
on the planet is inseparable from a totalitarian nightmare. Certainly it
will take totalitarian methods to induce everyone on Earth to let their
faces be scanned and uploaded. And so the SCP says, STOP FRS NOW.

     For more information, contact the SCP:

     Phone (212) 561-0106
     Web site <

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