Amnesty International is producing a map of all the places in New York City where surveillance cameras are scanning residents’ faces.
The project will enlist volunteers to use their smartphones to identify, photograph, and locate government-owned surveillance cameras capable of shooting video that could be matched against people’s faces in a database through AI-powered facial recognition.
The map that will eventually result is meant to give New Yorkers the power of information against an invasive technology the usage of which and purpose is often not fully disclosed to the public. It’s also meant to put pressure on the New York City Council to write and pass a law restricting or banning it. Other U.S. cities, such as Boston, Portland, and San Francisco, have already passed such laws.
Facial recognition technology can be developed by scraping millions of images from social media profiles and driver’s licenses without people’s consent, Amnesty says. Software from companies like Clearview AI can then use computer vision algorithms to match those images against facial images captured by closed-circuit television (CCTV) or other video surveillance cameras and stored in a database.