back to article German minister seeks facial recognition at airports, train stations

Germany's interior minister Thomas de Maiziere wants facial recognition systems in the country's airports and train stations to identify terror suspects. Europe has experienced a wave of attacks, many terror-related, over recent months, which has in turn triggered a heightened state of security. De Maiziere told the German …

  1. Paul

    Government minister seeks to use technology to solve social problem without understanding the effectiveness of it and how easy it is to defeat it.

    Nothing new here then.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      And the German constitution and data protection laws would make such a system illegal, so he will have to do a lot of work to get such a thing legalized.

  2. tiggity Silver badge

    Super Recognisers instead of software?

    People with exceptional memory for faces have been way more effective for the Met than facial recognition software in identifying crims based on images - cope better with subject aging / hiding parts of face too.

    They (Met) reckon 10+ years before facial recognition software can out perform their super recogniser team

    e.g info at

    http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2016/08/super-recognisers-scotland-yard

    1. Richard Wharram

      Re: Super Recognisers instead of software?

      The problem back when I was looking into it was dataset size. People go to expos and get sold facial recognition software which works perfectly in that setting, a few hundred people. They then try to implement it to work with more than a million different faces and end up having to trade off between too many false positives or too many false negatives. Then they give up.

      1. Smooth Newt Silver badge
        WTF?

        Facial recognition at train stations

        One million faces, only 1% false positives, 10,000 innocent people get arrested.

        1. JeffyPoooh
          Pint

          Re: Facial recognition at train stations

          Newt has nailed it. It's the 'false positive' problem.

          I believe that this TED Talk has one of the better explanations of false positive rates when looking for rare thngs. Very dangerous territory.

          http://www.ted.com/talks/peter_donnelly_shows_how_stats_fool_juries

          At least at airports, such systems could be installed at Immigration, where the camera can get a nice close up view of the subject. Give the system half a chance. It's when the idiots start talking about sweeping the camera across crowds, several dozen pixels per face, that is obvious nonsense.

    2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: Super Recognisers instead of software?

      Good luck recognizing me when I'm wearing a random face mask. I think I'll be a fox today, or maybe a ferret, or perhaps I'll dress up Mardi Gras style as a giant bird!

      Good luck figuring out my identity through the mirror-faced gas mask.

      *Blows a feisty raspberry, realizes I was still wearing the mask, & grumbles about suddenly not being able to see*

      =-)p

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Random face masks

        Unless it becomes popular for people to walk around in public wearing weird masks, the train station's security could solve that problem by just stopping everyone wearing a mask and making them remove it for a moment to have their face checked.

        I'd be more worried about movie makeup techniques to make you look different. That, along with mirrored sunglasses, would probably make it pretty hard for facial recognition software. Though if it could simply determine who is wearing sufficient makeup to fool the software, it could flag them for further investigation by security staff.

        That said, I do agree with those who say that with a large enough database, facial recognition simply won't work that well. If it was a "top ten most wanted" maybe they could get it to work, with some false positives which wouldn't be too much of a problem if people aren't treated poorly when flagged (i.e. don't go up to them to guns drawn and shouting like we probably would in the US) But the cries for expanding the database would quickly make it unwieldy, and driving down the false positive rate to an acceptable limit would mean a fair number of false negatives - including possibly one of those "top ten most wanted" people.

  3. ratfox Silver badge

    Wow! In Germany?

    The country where you're not even allowed to take pictures of people in public without asking for their authorization? This is gonna be interesting.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wow! In Germany?

      Stay calm citzen this is for your protection, if you have nothing to fear go about your business.

      Remember the NEC uk Test https://ipvm.com/forums/video-surveillance/topics/facerec-facepalm-at-british-festival

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Wow! In Germany?

      As it's Germany I think he'll have trouble getting it through, and if he does then there'll be such a stink that he'll be forced to backtrack.

    3. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Wow! In Germany?

      > ...not even allowed to take pictures of people in public without asking for their authorization?

      Not true. Things are more complicated, see Recht am eigenen Bild.

      Much simplified: you cannot take the picture of someone as main element of the picture AND then publish it. If you are a person of public interest even that is OK when done to you.

    4. Lord M4x

      Re: Wow! In Germany?

      German speeding tickets show the face of the driver, to avoid denial of responsibility.

      After initial privacy 'issues' with mistresses and other indiscretions on the passenger seat being included, the software pixelises the rest of the contents of the vehicle.

      So, I guess yes! In Germany.

      1. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Re: Wow! In Germany?

        I can take a photo of someone, that is a large step away from having them on a database, accusing them of a crime, storing information for ages....

    5. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Wow! In Germany?

      The German government has a track record of implementing surveillance, only to have it revoked in the consitutional court or in the normal courts by data protection law.

      They tried the "Bundestrojaner" a couple of years back (State-Trojan), which was state sponsored malware, which they wanted to install on every PC in the country. Luckily the courts told the government in no uncertain terms that such an action was illegal.

  4. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Ban my backpack? You don't want my money then.

    I wear a backpack to carry around my Insulin Dependant Diabetic supplies. If you forbid me the use of my pack, then I can't attend & will spend my money elsewhere. You want my business then don't ban my pack.

    "But you could be carrying a gun or a bomb in it!" True, but I could do the same in an attache case as well. Are you REALLY going to tell all those Business Class traveler's not to carry their briefcases with them? Do you REALLY think they'll appreciate you telling them to leave it home? Because if I were in Germany to enjoy Oktoberfest & you tell me I can't attend because I stupidly arrived in Germany on business first, then I'll take my briefcase *And My Business* to a country without it's head stuck up it's arse.

    What about baby diaper bags? Are you going to ban them as well? Because that mom with her baby that can't leave the baby home but only wants to sample a brew or two, won't hesitate to abandon your festival like the plague if you tell her she has to choose between carrying diapers for the kid or your beer. Or mom & dad visiting from somewhere with the baby in arm, being told that they're not welcome at the fest because they've got a nappy bag to hold all the stuff. They'll turn right around & take their money to some other country that does NOT treat them like shit.

    Or what about students? Or hikers? Or anyone traveling out of their bag across Europe? Will you be telling them all not to come because YOU don't like their bags? That local student might be able to go home & come back, but more than likely will leave & choose another party to join. The hiker or traveler may not have the option of leaving the bag anywhere, so will have to pass your beer bash behind.

    In your idiotic attempt at security, you've just told a large swath of your potential profits to fek right off & go away. I wonder what kind of affect it will have on your bottom line when all those potential customer's give you The Finger for someplace that *doesn't* screw with them?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ban my backpack? You don't want my money then.

      Just wait for all the US Theme parks to do the same, even Disney.

      Then it will be 'buy your Disney diapers here. Only $20 (+ tax) each)'

      Joking aside,

      Have you ever been caught up in a Terrorist incident?

      no? well you are in the majority but you never know when one will happen or in the USA, someone will go on the rampage with a veritable arsenal of guns.

      However, I have TWICE. firstly Munich 1972 and then London 1973 (Old Bailey).

      I don't mind the extra checks.

      As for the Mother and her diapers... go read about the 7yr old suicide bomber in Turkey a few days ago.

      People do get used to the inconvenience and I'm sure that some entreprise will soon start selling fanny packs that can carry the required supplies.

      1. frank ly

        Re: Ban my backpack? You don't want my money then.

        You could wear a jacket with lots of big pockets in it for your essential personal needs. Also, a couple of bandoliers with lots of small screw-top storage cannisters. That would work.

      2. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Ban my backpack? You don't want my money then.

        I don't mind the extra checks

        I lived in London in 1981, just round the corner from Ebury Bridge Road (Chelsea Barracks) and felt the explosion. A fortnight later I had been in Oxford Street not long before the Wimpy Bar bomb exploded. We looked with suspcion at every pillar box we passed (many of which had a narrow letter slot fitted across them to prevent larger objects being deposited) as the brittle cast iron made them ideal makeshift fragment bombs.

        I do mind the extra checks.

      3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Munich?

        I don't think that Munich counts as "caught up" unless you were one of the hostages, in which case, you were killed. So your insight into present situations may be not current.

        So presumably the plan is, any time someone walks into a railway train station that the computer thinks looks like a terrorist, they evacuate the train station?

        Then terrorism just got a lot easier, yes? Just put on a turban and the alarm will be set off. Or if the system is really refined, also wear a false beard. These items can be discarded during the panic, and the attack can be repeated again and again.

        Last night I actually was on a train and I saw a small unattended bag which almost certainly was someone's discarded rubbish, so I didn't say anything. I didn't sit next to it though. I can only say I haven't heard any report...

      4. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Ban my backpack? You don't want my money then.

        Most of the backpack bans are more about limiting what you can carry to the benefit of concessions. If you take a packed lunch you won't be buying much overpriced food at the concession stands will you.

        Security wise what size bag is permitted? Look up Claymore mine, size of a hand bag, a slab of metal on front of which is a slab of plastique with a few hundred ball bearings set in as shrapnel. Even less people friendly version has dense plastic pellets as they are harder to detect and remove from a body.

        " When you give up liberty in the name of security etc etc....

    2. lglethal Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Ban my backpack? You don't want my money then.

      Sorry, but you haven't been to Oktoberfest have you?

      Lets have a look at your arguments:

      a) Families - You don't bring babies and children to Oktoberfest. It is not the sort of event you just happen to bring the family along to. So frankly the comments about diaper bags are ridiculous.

      b) students/hikers - if your hiking and coming to Oktoberfest, then you're probably going to hole up in a hostel. Hey guess where you can leave your bag? In the hostel! Wow who would have thought it? And if you don't have a hotel or hostel, then why don't you go and get one? München is not a place where you just go sleep on the streets because you're too cheap to pay for a hostel. And if your willing to do that, well your hardly going to be able to afford to go to Oktoberfest in the first place are you?

      c) No-one in their right mind takes an attaché case to a beer festival!!! Really you arrive in München, dressed in a suit and tie for a business meeting (without having a hotel booked apparently), and just decide to go to Oktoberfest? Nope. Cant see it sorry.

      d) Medical supplies - You can pretty much guarantee that there would be medical exemptions for your bag of diabetic medication but your going to need a note from your doctor most likely. Just like going through airport security. Not so difficult that, is it?

      So to summarise, you've given 4 examples that were plain stupid for a beer festival. But don't worry, I guarantee that the Oktoberfest organisers don't mind that you wont be giving them "your business". Feel free to start your own beer festival somewhere else with your own level of security. Those of us in Germany will keep going with what we have here, and we'll take the heightened security. Cheers... bye

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Ban my backpack? You don't want my money then.

        > Sorry, but you haven't been to Oktoberfest have you?

        Agree with all your points.

        To anyone never been at this kind of thing: very crowded, very loud, plus yourself very very drunk. If you need diapers you need more training.

      2. Oengus

        Re: Ban my backpack? You don't want my money then.

        The problem here is they use Oktoberfest as the excuse to implement the laws and not have people object. Then they use the same laws to ban carrying items to any other event (or even just in a public space). Once the laws are in place they can (and will) be abused.

      3. JeffyPoooh
        Pint

        Re: Ban my backpack? You don't want my money then.

        "b) students/hikers - if your hiking..."

        If you're a student, then you're expected to spell "you're" correctly.

      4. Shadow Systems Silver badge

        @lglethal, RE: Oktoberfest.

        >Sorry, but you haven't been to Oktoberfest have you?

        Actually I've been multiple times, thank you for asking. My first time was as a babe in my mother's arms when my folks took me with them. According to them I rather enjoyed the funny looking lady carrying the beer steins ("The Saint Pauli girl in the flesh") & tried to grab her boobs. The next five times were the subsequent years as I grew up, always with my folks, & still making the occasional grab for the cute girls with the big... steins. My next time was in my twenty's during a family reunion, during which I rather enjoyed the crowd, noise, & looking at the pretty girls. So I have been many times & have fond memories of attending, thank you for bringing them back to the forefront so I could sigh in contentment.

        > a) Families - You don't bring babies and children to Oktoberfest. It is not the sort of event you just happen to bring the family along to. So frankly the comments about diaper bags are ridiculous.

        Really? Strange that my family should do *exactly* that as part of a group of other similar minded parents as a group outing. Perhaps you frequent the seedier parts where such hospitality is not only unheard of but actively assaulted in dark corners for daring to attend? I distinctly remember my group of playmates (children of my own age) being shown all the interesting clothing, amusing people, & myriad of different steins with all the fancy designs. Has it changed so far in the past few decades as to no longer be a "Family Friendly" event? That would be a shame.

        > b) students/hikers - if your hiking and coming to Oktoberfest, then you're probably going to hole up in a hostel. Hey guess where you can leave your bag? In the hostel! Wow who would have thought it? And if you don't have a hotel or hostel, then why don't you go and get one? München is not a place where you just go sleep on the streets because you're too cheap to pay for a hostel. And if your willing to do that, well your hardly going to be able to afford to go to Oktoberfest in the first place are you?

        Because nobody with a functioning brain leaves anything behind in the hostel/hotel? Do you leave your laptop behind? No. Do you leave your purse/wallet behind? No. You *might* leave your luggage behind *IF* you've packed more than the single luggable bag most hiking travelers tended to carry. You may have rented the room, but that does NOT mean your things will be any safer having been left behind. The number one rule was "Don't leave anything unattended if you don't want it stolen." That was true in the 1990's, so I would doubt it's gotten any better since. The only thing renting a hostel/hotel room does is give you a bed to sleep in. Beyond that security is *your* concern, not theirs. So the backpack comes with you everywhere, no questions asked, if you want to KEEP what's in it.

        > c) No-one in their right mind takes an attaché case to a beer festival!!! Really you arrive in München, dressed in a suit and tie for a business meeting (without having a hotel booked apparently), and just decide to go to Oktoberfest? Nope. Cant see it sorry.

        Yes, because nobody ever travels to Germany on business & conducts business AT the Oktoberfest. Nope nope nope, never ever ever. /s ... Except for those business travelers whom remember that bit about never leaving anything valuable behind in their hotel room lest it get stolen. Attache case full of potentially valuable insider information? Perhaps a laptop full of proprietary data? Nah, we'll just leave that back in the room unattended where anyone can mess with it at their leisure. Even if they don't steal it outright, corporate espionage is a very real concern. No business traveler worth two shakes would leave such important material behind, especially if it's corporate policy to fire your ass for the security breech. "Just leave it in the hotel safe!" doesn't work. YOU are not the only person with access to the safe. The manager & gawd knows how many other employees have access (Oh look! The combo is 1.2.3.4.5!) so you have *no* guaranty of the safety of your valuables. Unless they can prove that you will be the only one with the combo to your specific lock box, & nobody can get to the lock box but you, you would have to go rent a Safety Deposit Box at your nearest bank to have any hope in hell of keeping your things secure. So like the hiker & student, the business traveler won't leave anything of value behind in their room when going out on the town. That includes attending Oktoberfest with an attache case.

        > d) Medical supplies - You can pretty much guarantee that there would be medical exemptions for your bag of diabetic medication but your going to need a note from your doctor most likely. Just like going through airport security. Not so difficult that, is it?

        Actually I do *not* need a note from my doctor to carry my insulin. I can travel through airport security without much hassel, as long as I declare that I have it & show it to the TSA agent on my way through. They can't legally forbid me to carry it (a medical necessity) & if they try to take it from me it's technicly Attempted Murder (just as if you tugged the feeder IV tube out of someone being fed intraveniously; you can't do that & expect them to live). So I may accept being questioned about the nature of the bag & it's contents, but anybody trying to hassel me about it is intentionally being an asshole. I am unaware of the laws concerning those with Disabilities in Europe & Germany, but here in the States we have the American's with Disabilities Act (ADA) which states that we can't be denied goods/services because of our Disability nor because of the Medicly Necessary equipment we carry with which to deal with said Disability. So if I attended Oktoberfest with a backpack filled with insulin supplies, & they tried to stop me from attending BECAUSE of those supplies, how fast would I be able to get a German lawyer to tear those assholes a new hole to fart from? Yes they MAY make an exception for my bag, but why should *anyone* have to trade Liberty for Security?

        > So to summarise, you've given 4 examples that were plain stupid for a beer festival. But don't worry, I guarantee that the Oktoberfest organisers don't mind that you wont be giving them "your business".

        I am but one person & they wouldn't notice my abscence. But multiply that by the thousands of parents, hikers, students, & business folks, plus local folks that consider such security theater as utter bullshit, & suddenly their bottom line will have to notice. First it was bags, what's next? Purses? Sporrans? Fanny Packs? Camera bags? Computer bags? Where does it stop? And *none* of it will make a difference as already noted by another commenter.

        Given you can carry a suicide bomb strapped to your chest under a floppy shirt, what good does it do to ban bags at all? So while I won't be there to celebrate, it may turn out that many, many others ALSO won't be attending because of such rules. Boycotts may start small, but like an avalanche, they tend to start small but end up being too big to avoid. What happens if enough folks decide to boycott Oktoberfest because the "security" is nothing of the sort & amounts to too much of a pain in the ass?

        > Feel free to start your own beer festival somewhere else with your own level of security. Those of us in Germany will keep going with what we have here, and we'll take the heightened security. Cheers... bye

        That's fine. But where you are willing to trade your Liberty for Security, others are not so blase about their Rights. Have fun at Oktoberfest - don't be surprised if the crowds are smaller, the profits lower, & the rules get tightened like a noose around your neck for daring to attend.

      5. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Re: Ban my backpack? You don't want my money then.

        I HAVE been to Oktoberfest and YES THERE WERE PEOPLE WITH CHILDREN AND PRAMS

        Oktoberfest is also used by people on their way home from work who might well have work laptops or stuff to carry. I daresay therefore some could use it on their way from office to airport. True I would prefer to book a hotel and stay longer but hotels are hard to find at short notice, those that can be are often far enough that you don't go from the office to the hotel back to the Oktoberfest.... you go to the fest on the way to the hotel (or airport)

        Its not just beer drinking there are other things there AND frankly if you haven't prebooked to be in the large tents you are probably one of those wandering around buying an expensive wine, an over priced beer on a roundabout, a sausage in a bun or an authentic candle in a glass pot inbetween fairground rides

    3. Lord M4x

      Re: Ban my backpack? You don't want my money then.

      You may find that the security forces do not sell beer, and don't actually care about a few tourists not coming.

    4. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Re: Ban my backpack? You don't want my money then.

      And to be honest IF the terrorists exist (and frankly the number of apparent incidents is trivial anyway) and if they are from the extreme Muslim ideology are you going to bad Burkas? Not in UK or Germany where politicians don't have the balls. How many pounds of explosive and metal balls etc can fit under one of those tents ...

      True in theory they shouldn't be drinking but Oktoberfest does have a large market and funfair they could be going to, and Munich a large and crowded airport, trainstation, and city centre...

      As usual politician opens mouth before brain is in gear

  5. Lee D Silver badge

    Just not accurate enough.

    Sorry, but if you honestly get to the point of publicly announcing such measures without taking your IT or even security guys to one side and saying "Look, I want to do this. Is that going to be a problem?" (whereupon both will say "You bloody idiot, that's useless for what you want it for") then you're just proving yourself to be an idiot.

    MY OWN DAMN PHONE can't recognise ME from an entire photo gallery of... well, ME... when given a 12MP up-close, hold-still, face-on image of... ME. Hell, the fingerprint scanner doesn't always get my fingerprint and that's its entire purpose and again it has a database of ONE FINGER. Which is pretty much my reaction towards anyone who suggests biometrics for anything serious, and certainly for authentication of any kind (it's your username, not your password, remember!).

    Everything else is just subject to such massive amounts of false positives that you'll put it in place, arrest random people for a month, then realise it needs to be tuned down, when the company that sold it to you will happily charge you to tune it down to next-to-useless levels. Oh, and you signed that disclaimer that said that they can't GUARANTEE they'll spot the terrorist anyway, so they may as well tune it down to literally zero (or as close as feasible without looking like they're scamming you) and stop you whining about the false positives.

    We literally DO NOT HAVE this kind of technology, and won't for a very long time. Even if it could approach human levels of recognition on perfect images (which it can't), it still will get fooled as much as a human would.

    This is someone basing their policies on what they saw on Star Trek last week rather than what exists in the real world.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      On the occasion of her recent milestone birthday, I posted a lovely picture of Her Majesty on Facebook.

      Facebook's facial recognition certainly recognized the face thusly: 'Hey, it's a face'.

      Then Facebook requested that I tag (identify) my mysterious new friend.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Before I turned that junk off, Facebook tried to get me to tag a picture of somebody's knee to a Facebook profile.

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Once again, our society rushes to abandon freedom at the first sign of panic

    Independently of the fact that facial recognition in public areas has been demonstrated to be useless, I am tired of this immediate jump to more surveillance in our daily lives just because there is a hint of a threat.

    Yes, terrorism is bad. Yes, loss of life is tragic. If, however, we are going to transform our society into a series of roadblocks with security checks at every corner and nightly curfews, then the terrorists have succeeded in destroying our way of life beyond their wildest dreams.

  7. Mr Dogshit
    Headmaster

    It's not "train station"

    It's "railway station".

  8. Scott Broukell
    Meh

    Optional (this CAPTCHA really is too easy btw)

    Is this to determine the identification of a suspect AFTER he/she had carried out an act of cowardly, hate-filled, violence, or BEFORE. Because if it is the later, should not the security forces have already called round to his/her lodgings and introduced said individual to some extreme-sports on a handy concrete staircase, since they would seem to already be able to make a positive identification?

    Or perhaps we just really really need this kind of technology everywhere these days so Mega Corps World Wide can go about their lawful duty to improve the vital task of tracking, logging and data mining every individual, everywhere, day and night - in order to enhance product awareness and aspirational purchasing choice financial risk assessment/potential.

    Probably a bit of both and nothing much will change down at street level - there, I've gone and answered my own ramblings - as you were.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Eagerly awaiting die Analprobe

    As a German, I am by now under the impression that Thomas de Maiziere’s frontal region was never exposed to our Grundgesetz. Nor sure about the back.

    What he does here is fishing for right-wing votes. He needs them so badly, you have no idea. The election in 2017 will be rather interesting for Merkel’s CDU. Just a small selection of aspects that come into play:

    Refugee Crisis: Apparently, this worries a great number of people. The smart ones because the government seems unable to handle things sufficiently which brings about all kinds of problems, the stupid ones because of the usual racist crap - which right wing populists and extremists eagerly exploit.

    NSA: Selling out your citizens to big brother and telling them you don’t care apparently does not get you any brownie-points on any part of the political spectrum. Citizens don’t seem to care too much since stuff is „so technical“ but they did take notice.

    Constant war-mongering and full-on militarization: Bundeswehr now „helping people“ in more resource-rich places than you can shake a stick at. NATO constantly teasing Russia. Government pleading ignorance about the USA’s drone war. Pleading ignorance about the role of Ramstein. Eagerness to deploy the Bundeswehr inside our own borders. Making up all kinds of bullshit stories about how the Bundeswehr is ill-equipped to even lace up its own boots in the morning to justify crazy spendings. Bundeswehr present at schools. Bundeswehr letting children play with weapons. Bundeswehr present at Gamescon. Bundeswehr permanently putting out brazen advertising. Bundeswehr, proud to be part of the Olympic Games. Oh, by the way, we used to have a draft, so the Bundeswehr used to be made up of people from all parts of society. Not no more, it is now a „volunteer’s army“ - that is our newspeak for mercenary. People with little other options that next to nobody cares about and certainly not the best and brightest. Awesome.

    ’Terrerism: Germany saw nothing that even remotely qualifies as a successful terrorist attack yet. Minor incidents, mostly by disturbed, traumatized people. The guy who attacked people on a train? He wrote a letter stating „I’m doing this because you and your allies murdered our friends and family“ - talk about a free hint, yet everybody publicly wondered about how people could „radicalize so quickly“. Madness! Yet, Thomas wants to analprobe all of us. Which leads us to…

    Surveillance: MORE MORE MORE useless but hyper-expensive stuff that citizens have to pay for so they can be pried upon. What do you say, there is big money to be made with surveillance? Cronyism you say? Shut up, this is about Our Values(TM).

    Erosion of civil liberties and party-line propaganda: Fuck you and your religious attire. Fuck you and your backpack. Fuck you and your opinions. If you fall out of line you are one of Putins useful idiots and / or a tinfoil-hatter and / or a Nazi. So don’t you dare ask the hard questions if you have any sort of significant reach. Mr. Maas is working with left-wing extremists (of all people!) to find you and whoops, maybe you get banned from Facebook for „hatespeech“.

    And there is so much more, especially in the social / income disparity area. Yet the propaganda line is „Deutschland geht’s gut“ - „Germany is well off“.

    The thing is: People do notice this stuff these days, and they talk about it - welcome to the internet. Dots are being connected, conclusions are being drawn.

    And this is why Thomas and his band of bullshitters are flailing about like idiots, trying to scaremonger people into submission.

    Best of luck, Thomas, you are going to need it.

    AC? You bet.

  10. phuzz Silver badge
    Joke

    I've got a better idea, how about just handing everyone who arrives at Munich train station a stein of beer.

    That should weed out all the hard-line Islamic terrorists, and the ones willing to drink alcohol will now have to try to carry out their bombing whilst pissed.

  11. Wade Burchette Silver badge

    Minority Report is coming true before our very eyes

    I know facial recognition has a long ways to go. But the technology is improving. In Minority Report, the eyes were used as identification. Facial recognition is a stepping-stone to that. And you'd better believe that advertisers will use any means available to deliver you more "relevant" ads.

    We really are halfway there with every single internet advertisement tracking what you do. Pre-Facebook and other social networking sites, a simple cookie clear forced them to start over. Now, you signed up for Facebook and so the tracking is tied to your contact information, not a cookie. The social networking part is just a blind so you will hand over all your information. Then you upload lots of photos of yourself on Facebook or Instagram. You sign up for a Microsoft account because Microsoft makes you think you have to have one to log in to Windows. That requires some personal information. Then people use their webcam to take a picture of themselves as their account picture. Now Microsoft has your picture and some personal information. Over time, telemetry finds out what programs you use, Cortana knows what you are searching for, and so on. All tied, not to a cookie, but to your personal information. The same people who take to the street to protest warrantless wiretaps will gladly hand over the exact same information, and then some, to Facebook.

    Let us think about it: You also give a lot of personal information to Facebook, including your name, your pet's name, what you like, what you do, what you are doing, and much more. Facial recognition technology is improving. Now that photo of yourself can be used to discover who you are as you go about your daily activities. Imagine walking into the grocery store and there a billboard appears saying "John Smith, your wife's birthday is coming up. Why not buy her some Cadbury Chocolates, isle 8?" Or you walk into a pet store: "John Smith, you bulldog Butch could use a nice bath. Try our in-store grooming department." You walk into an electronics store: "John Smith, since you like playing the Halo series, why not try the new Halo: Master Chief edition for your XBox." And I could go on.

    Profit is a huge motivation for quickly improving technology. If advertisers can figure out how to have even more targeted ads using facial recognition, you better believe the technology will advance rapidly.

    Instead of a metro card, a camera scans your face and connects that your account. (In Minority Report, the eyes were used.) Of course, the government will insist that every camera keep a recording "for your safety" (of course). That means the government will be able to track you. 'John Smith used this metro station at 8:34 p.m., northbound train.' To save money, such devices will be on the internet on not on a separate non-public network. So now that means there will be pay-to-track hackers who crack the system so that you can be stalked. (Everything on the internet can be hacked, even the most secure system. If I ever get a 'connected' car, the first thing I will do is remove any feature that connects to the internet.) And I could go on here too.

    One thing about humans is they take good things and make them bad things. Do not get me wrong, some things about facial recognition is a good thing. Where it is wrong is when the system is used to track you for profit or for the government. There cannot be any tracking of any kind in any way for any reason without a court ordered warrant. This is why I use an ad blocker AND NoScript.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Minority Report is coming true before our very eyes

      What are these internet advertisements, Facebook and Microsoft accounts of which you write?

    2. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Re: Minority Report is coming true before our very eyes

      The thing is most of the population is already carrying around a mobile phone. In Germany you have to give all sorts of details for a mobile here (you don't for visiting which is currently a loop hole I guess they will close eventually). All mobiles form android and apple are very capable of tracking you (the phone companies do it for everyone else) and if you check theses companies know where you were every minute of every day since you owned the phone... and its available on the net.

  12. Andrew Jones 2

    Slippery slope.....

    It's amazing isn't it - we keep getting told that they need all these extra powers to identify potential terrorists - and then it comes out a bit later that the security services in various countries were already aware of the terrorists that were involved in whatever the attack was. Very few people though seem to question why they need more powers to identify terrorists if they can't even act to stop attacks when they have already identified the terrorists using the powers they already have..... This will be a slippery road we are heading down - if people keep saying "if it keeps me safe then I suppose it's OK" - then before long it will be security services killed a suspected terrorist who as it turns out had no links to terrorism whatsoever - and people will say "well... if it keeps me safe, I suppose we'll just have to live with the possibility that anyone could be killed for being a suspected terrorist - even if they aren't" and further down the line - the definition of terrorist will start to mutate much like now - where laws that are supposed to be to prevent terrorism are being used on people who aren't terrorists.

    1. FlamingDeath

      Re: Slippery slope.....

      It's called the machiavellian dialect.

      1. Create problem

      2. Propose already planned solution

      3. Profit

      Some great examples:

      9/11

      7/7

      Joe Cox

      Gulf of tonkin incident

      Reichstag fire

      The list goes on-and-on-and-on-and-on, all the way back to antiquity

    2. Vic

      Re: Slippery slope.....

      then before long it will be security services killed a suspected terrorist who as it turns out had no links to terrorism whatsoever - and people will say "well... if it keeps me safe, I suppose we'll just have to live with the possibility that anyone could be killed for being a suspected terrorist - even if they aren't"

      This is, of course, most worrying if you happen to be a Brazilian electrician.

      Vic.

  13. IsJustabloke
    Stop

    ahem

    <yoda>

    mmm.... tinfoil hat, strong in this thread it is...mmmm

    </yoda>

  14. A Long Fellow

    "Germany's interior minister Thomas de Maiziere wants facial recognition systems in the country's airports and train stations to identify terror suspects."

    That's the problem right there: he says he wants to identify terror suspects, but he's going to wind up identifying _everyone_, and if you can't imagine how this information will be misused, then you've drunk way too much of the corporate kool-aid.

    We need a new conception of privacy and property -- one which acknowledges the power of "big data" to aggregate and correlate previously discrete data points into a damning whole, and one which treats such data points for both individuals and groups of individuals as valuable property to which we have inalienable rights and ultimate control.

  15. kevin king

    Don't worry probably already hacked!

    A group of researchers demonstrated that a number of existing facial recognition systems can be fooled by 3D facial models made from Facebook photos.

    Facial recognition systemsstill have a certain margin of error, for example, trying to identify people of color.

    http://securityaffairs.co/wordpress/50497/hacking/fool-facial-recognition-systems.html

    1. JeffyPoooh
      Pint

      Re: Don't worry probably already hacked!

      "...can be fooled by 3D facial models..."

      If it's a single camera, then why does anyone need a 3D model? Does it have a laser scanner? Aimed at the subject's face?

      A simple camera can't tell it's a flat picture... Hmmm...

      Oh! Invention Time.

      Assume a fixed subject, fairly close, facing the camera.

      System could adjust camera settings (wide aperture, neutral density filter) for a very narrow depth of field. Then adjust focal point while monitoring image's local contrast map.

      Such an algorithm, with adjustable camera controlled by the algorithm, can determine an approximate 3D Z-axis distance for each small region of the image by measuring the focal distance.

      In other words, extract a rough 3D image using a single camera.

      Has anybody invented this before? Somebody must have. It's obvious I think.

      Ideas, dime a dozen.

      1. JCitizen Bronze badge
        IT Angle

        Re: Don't worry probably already hacked!

        I once saw a simple .gif image demonstration, where two images taken from a slowly moving camera just fractions of a second apart; and then shuttered like movie frames at 25 frames per second or so; and resulted in fooling my brain into thinking I was seeing a 3D representative of the image. I was gob smacked!! Who knew you could make an image jump off a 2D page and look like it had depth??? I may be mistaken by the technique, but it looked fairly simple to me. The coloring looked a little washed, so it may be necessary to add some element to it about that, I may be unaware of.

        None the less, if a human brain can see it, why can't a well written algorithm? I should think with today's high speed computing becoming so prevalent that today's cell phone beats some of the best desktops 10 years ago - I'd think it might be possible.

  16. Dave 15 Silver badge

    just to prove hunt isnt the only...

    Yup seems that even the obedient Germans have their rectums

    When most terrorists are not know until after their bits are recovered it seems unlikely this is any better than a way of tracking people... I guess not enough people have android or apple phones for the fact those have tracking that you can access online to cover 100% of the population

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