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Big Revolution - Facing up to face recognition

Hello and welcome to the last full-fat Big Revolution of the week... – Martin
April 13 · Issue #47 · View online
Big Revolution
Hello and welcome to the last full-fat Big Revolution of the week…

Big things you need to know today
Credit: Adrien on Unsplash
- Think your Android phone is up to date with security patches? The manufacturer might be lying to you, Wired reports. “Other than Google’s own flagship phones like the Pixel and Pixel 2, even top-tier phone vendors sometimes claimed to have patches installed that they actually lacked. And the lower-tier collection of manufacturers had a far messier record.”
- Meanwhile, police forces across the USA have technology that can break the encryption on even the latest iPhones on iOS 11, according to records seen by Motherboard.
- Santander has launched a cross-border money transfer service based on blockchain tech. “One Pay uses distributed ledger technology developed by California-based Ripple, allowing users to see the exact amount of money that will be arrive in the destination before they make a transfer, and shortening the length of time taken from several days to the same day or next day,” the FT reports.
- Also in the world of international payments, hot London-based fintech startup Revolut is set to see its valuation grow a whopping 5x to $, following an ongoing funding round, according to Recode.
- Ugh. The Guardian has confirmed that Aleksandr Kogan DID collect some users’ private Facebook messages. The advice that ‘nothing you put online is private’ proving true again.
The big thought
Facing up to face recognition
There have been a flurry of reports about a man wanted by police in China who was found at a concert among more than 50,000 people thanks to face recognition tech
I’m generally wary of stories that get passed via multiple news outlets on their way out of China, and this fits the easy narrative of China using tech in scarily oppressive ways. So, while I’m not going to say for sure that this definitely happened exactly as reported, we know that similar tech has been used to publicly shame jaywalkers among other things.
It can only be a matter of time before police use this kind of approach in the West. We’ve already seen venues in the USA like Madison Square Garden get caught secretly scanning visitors’ faces. Given today’s news roundup above that shows just how easy it is to develop a false sense of security around how technology is used, maybe our faces are already scanned against our will.
It feels difficult to imagine a future where our faces aren’t scanned routinely multiple times a day. Sure, privacy advocates will kick up a fuss, but the ‘it’s all to make you safer from the bad guys’ argument tends to win all too easily.
When I walk through my local city centre, I’m continually watched by surveillance cameras. Face recognition would be a worrying upgrade to these systems that would raise all sorts of concerns of police stalking and harassing people, and the government keeping a strict tabs on citizens.
But I have a feeling we’d adapt to a world where we could be identified by 'the authorities.’ If the technology’s use was kept low key so that people didn’t think about it in their day to day lives, it would become like those existing surveillance cameras – something you just don’t think about that much.
On a subconscious level though, it would probably make us a more compliant, submissive society, with the constant low-level awareness that anything you do publicly could be attributed directly back to you. That’s not a good thing, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
Just like nothing is private on the internet, the world of analytics, attribution and continual monitoring is coming to the real world. And just like in the online world, maybe we won’t be all that bothered.
One big read
After Cambridge Analytica, Privacy Experts Get to Say ‘I Told You So’ After Cambridge Analytica, Privacy Experts Get to Say ‘I Told You So’
Privacy campaigners get a chance to be smug… “For the first time, many privacy experts think internet users will be more willing to put up with a little more inconvenience in return for a lot more privacy.”
One big tweet
Sensible parenting in 2018:
nilay patel
It’s amazing how quickly I’ve begun rejecting baby apps and gadgets that require a cloud service or user account.
10:24 PM - 12 Apr 2018
That’s all for today...
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