Facewatch Facial Recognition System

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Facewatch Facial Recognition System
Short Title Facewatch Facial Recognition System Offers Analysis and Biometric Watchlists For Shops, Pubs, and Other Public Venues
Location Great Britain
Date October 2020

Taxonomy Surveillance, Identification
Information Physical Characteristics, Behavioral, Identifying, Criminal, Social Network
Threat Actors Facewatch, Facewatch customers, Law Enforcement

Individuals
Affected People in public
High Risk Groups
Secondary Consequences

In the UK a company called Facewatch provides facial recognition analysis and biometric watchlists to shops, pubs, and other public venues, as well as offers its services to the police. It is allegedly developing a facial recognition technology that will work when people are wearing masks.

Description

Facewatch is a company that was founded in 2010 and describes itself as a “cloud-based facial recognition security system [that] has helped leading retail stores… reduce in-store theft, staff violence and abuse.” The company is now working internationally, with distributors in Argentina, Brazil and Spain.

The way Facewatch initially worked was that businesses (shops, bars, nightclubs etc.) would install Facewatch cameras in their premises. Surveillance Using the footage from those cameras they would be able to identify “subjects of interest”, for instance, people who were seen on cameras stealing from the shop or displaying antisocial behaviour or generally anyone they did not wish to see in their shop. They would therefore create and store a list of effectively blacklisted individuals. By scanning the faces of everyone who enters a shop and comparing them to the faces of those blacklisted, Facewatch is able to identify if a person who enters is on the blacklist or not. Identification

In May 2020, they announced they had developed a new form of facial recognition technology that allows for the identification of individuals based solely on the eye region, between the cheekbones and the eyebrows, and that they would upgrade the systems of their subscribers accordingly.

Facewatch that has often talked about its alleged partnerships with public authorities in the UK.

According to pricing and data-sharing templates Facewatch is offering its products for UK police forces. The system would allow police forces to ‘plug in’ to the data pool of facial images held by Facewatch, stemming from the thousands of cameras operated by Facewatch’s customers, in order to allow them to run people’s faces against their own watchlists in a ‘stand-alone’ and ‘segregated’ system.

Breakdown

Threat: Stores watching people through Facewatch cameras
At-Risk group: Stores visitors
Harm: Surveillance
Secondary Consequences: not known

Threat: Stores scanning the faces of everyone who enters a shop and comparing them to the faces of those blacklisted to recognise if the person is on blacklist of not
At-Risk group: Stores visitors
Harm: Identification
Secondary Consequences: not known

Risk Statistics

Laws and Regulations

Sources

https://privacyinternational.org/news-analysis/4218/authorities-must-act-police-face-surveillance-network-backdoor
https://privacyinternational.org/long-read/4216/facewatch-reality-behind-marketing-discourse