What on earth is going on?
Police conducted a trial of controversial facial recognition software without consulting their own bosses or the Privacy Commissioner.
The American firm Clearview AI’s system, which is used by hundreds of police departments in the United States and several other countries, is effectively a search engine for faces – billing itself as a crime-fighting tool to identify perpetrators and victims.
New Zealand Police first contacted the firm in January, and later set up a trial of the software, according to documents RNZ obtained under the Official Information Act. However, the high tech crime unit handling the technology appears to have not sought the necessary clearance before using it.
Privacy Commissioner John Edwards, who was not aware police had trialled Clearview Al when RNZ contacted him, said he would expect to be briefed on it before a trial was underway. He said Police Commissioner Andrew Coster told him he was also unaware of the trial.
“He’s concerned it was able to happen without a high-level sign-off, and [the] involvement of my office,” Edwards said, following a phone conversation with Coster on Tuesday. “They will be looking at protocols, how they do evaluate new technologies.”
Let me get this completely straight. The NZ Police trialled a mass surveillance face recognition software from a company that illegally harvests faces from social media WITHOUT informing the Privacy Commissioner or even their own Police Commissioner?
This is such an egregious breach of good faith I’m not sure how anyone in a management position who signed off on this can’t be sacked!
Clearview Al, whose early financial backers include New Zealand citizen Peter Thiel, has built a database of about 2.8 billion faces by lifting users’ images from social media sites like Facebook, a practice that violates most of these companies’ terms of service.
Using mass surveillance technology from a company with questionable ethics that breach the current law and then lying multiple times to the media when they were investigating the NZ Police use of this…
Prior to the statement from Fitzgerald, police spokespeople told RNZ on two separate occasions in the past week – on 7 and 11 May – that the trial was still underway. A spokesperson later said these statements were incorrect.
…isn’t just a mistake.
As someone who has had their civil rights breached by the Police and had to fight them through the Court, I know a cop lie when I smell one.
Why are the NZ Police branching out on these types of technologies without total agreement from the top brass and the appropriate Civil Liberty watchdogs?
If the top brass had no idea of this, what else don’t they know? How many other mass surveillance programs are the Police trying out that they’ve ‘forgotten’ to tell their bosses about?
It is outrageous that the NZ Police are secretly testing out these types of technologies without any agreement whatsoever from the civilian Government.
Who does the NZ Police answer to? The NZ Parliament or more chillingly, themselves?
As we are currently in a medically induced Police State, finding out the are secretly pulling stunts like this makes me very skeptical of their supposed good will.
This is what secret police who breach civil liberties do, this isn’t the actions of a police force protecting civilians.
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