IT gurus warn facial recognition software is backdoor means for surveilling upon Internet users

IT gurus warn facial recognition software is backdoor means for surveilling upon Internet users


Michael Rectenwald, author of “Google Archipelago: The Digital Gulag and the Simulation of Freedom,” told The Defender: “The use of facial recognition software, supposedly for verifying users as children, represents a backdoor means for tracking tracing, and surveilling upon Internet users to unprecedented and hitherto unimaginable degrees.

“It would enable Big Tech to collect biometric information on users, not only to identify them as children (or adults) per se, but precisely as particular individuals.”

Derrick Broze, founder and editor-in-chief of The Conscious Resistance Network, said such practices could also lead to the normalisation of facial scanning. He said: “My major concern is how this technology and others continue to normalise the scanning of faces of those too young to fully grasp the importance of their biometric data.

“Even if Yoti is a trustworthy company this process of scanning your face to verify your age or identity will also help normalize the scanning of faces as a standard way for accessing content.”

Along similar lines, Glaser said, “The more regulators open this door to facial surveillance, the more these tech companies will capture faces and bodies not only upon login, but also continuously during product use. They will claim it is necessary to prevent unauthorised access during product use.

California-based attorney Robert Barnes, said such normalisation could, in turn, lead to a normalisation of “mass control,” telling The Defender: “The government seeking to allow companies’ biometric testing on kids is the latest effort at mass surveillance. Such surveillance is really about mass control. When has that ever worked out for more freedom for the people rather than less?”

Several of the experts warned there may be other, underlying reasons behind the push for expanded facial recognition and biometric surveillance and warned of potentially harmful consequences for human privacy and anonymity.

Glaser said, “In the bigger picture, there is a sinister reason tech companies desire to openly surveil our faces and bodies while we use their products. He said:

“We are normal people, so we naively assume the benign reason is the companies want to enhance their product and service security, but the reality is much darker. Real-time human face data is extremely valuable in conducting AI [artificial intelligence] analysis of human behaviour. This is not just for marketing purposes and security. It is for AI development of new products to which we would never consent.

“For example, Facebook is not a charity – they desire to use new AI to convert your family videos into interactive meta experiences they can resell not just to you but to others. Bluntly, Facebook’s desire is to sell your child’s voice and images as 3D experiences that creepy adults enjoy on Meta. And Facebook is not alone in its perversions.”

Yoti’s website lists Meta – Facebook’s parent company – as one of the businesses that “trusts” its products.

According to Rechtenwald, “Big Tech companies could thereby establish a biometrically verified identity database replete with precise digital profiles, which could then be used for marketing but also for political, governmental, and other purposes,” adding:

“Given the prevalent sharing of user data between government agencies and Big Tech platforms, these new digital identities would enable the government to undertake precision surveillance, intelligence and data-collecting operations.

“The last line of online privacy – namely, anonymity – would be utterly eradicated. Also, hackers and other unscrupulous parties could access such data for any number of purposes, including blackmail, extortion, sex and child trafficking, and more.”

Along a similar vein, Glaser said that by legalising such technologies, “regulators are effectively legalising child porn.” He told The Defender: “It amazes me that legislators and regulators do not see two steps ahead here to proactively protect children from AI. Tech companies have routinely been caught peddling child pornography uploaded to their sites. Did they reform? No, they are actively becoming surveillance pornographers targeting children.

“With the sheer amount of data they can collect from real-time monitoring of phone and device cameras, together with advanced AI analysis capabilities, regulators are effectively legalising child porn.”

Whistleblowers have previously said that the US government has a poor track record in protecting minors, including from trafficking. For instance, in April, Tara Lee Rodas, a whistleblower from the US Department of Health and Human Services, said that the US government has become the “middleman” in the transport of unaccompanied minors across the US-Mexico border.

During testimony provided to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security and Enforcement April 26, Rodas said: “I thought I was going to help place children in loving homes. Instead, I discovered that children are being trafficked through a sophisticated network that begins with being recruited in their home country, smuggled to the US border, and ends when ORR [Office of Refugee Resettlement] delivers a child to a sponsor – some sponsors are criminals and traffickers and members of Transnational Criminal Organizations.”

And Broze warned that despite privacy assurances, policies can later change.

“While it’s admirable that Yoti and partners claim they do not store the images of a child’s face and do not share the data, history has shown that these corporate policies can change over time,” he said.

Yoti, SuperAwesome and Epic Games are also connected to several other major corporations and organiastions.

Describing itself as “a digital identity company that makes it safer for people to prove who they are” by “empowering people with a free, reusable digital ID app that minimises the data they share with businesses,” Yoti claims it works with “policy advisors, think-tanks, researchers, academics, humanitarian bodies, our users and everyday people.”

The company also claims it is guided by “seven ethical principles,” including “encourage[ing] personal data ownership,” “enable[ing] privacy and anonymity” and “keep[ing] sensitive data secure.”

Aside from partnerships with entities such as Meta, the UK’s National Health Service, London’s Heathrow Airport and the government of Jersey, Yoti, in 2019, raised 8 million GBP ($10.2 million) from “unnamed private investors.”

SuperAwesome, in turn, presents itself as a company providing “Youth marketing solutions” that “powers the youth digital media ecosystem” through “Ads marketplace & gaming solutions,” “YouTube & influencer media” and “Parental consent management.”

“Youth audiences can’t be ignored,” the company states. “[As] some of the fastest growing and most engaged digital users, they are a critical audience to drive engagement.”

SuperAwesome also promotes youth participation in the metaverse. For instance, one report the company has published, titled “How brands can connect with young audiences in the metaverse,” examines “how brands can create branded metaverse content that young people want to see.”

Video game developer and retailer Epic Games, SuperAwesome’s parent company, has attracted significant corporate investors, including BlackRock, the Walt Disney Company and the Disney Accelerator, Sony and Tencent.

  • The Defender report / By Dr Michael Nevradakis, senior reporter for The Defender
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