New York testing facial recognition technology at crossings

New York testing facial recognition technology at crossings

January 25, 2022

IMAGINE not being able to leave your house without your face or car license plate being scanned at every turn.

That's the scary future proposed by New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is looking to test facial recognition technology around Manhattan.

In a speech detailing a $100 billion investment into state infrastructure, Cuomo made a number of promises including the more positive-sounding renovation of New York's main train terminal, Penn Station, to be called Penn-Farley.

But more terrifyingly, he also mentioned the introduction facial recognition cameras around the city to collect data of people's faces and car license plate numbers.

While the Governor devoted most of his speech to the promises that New York City’s bridges and tunnels would be outfitted with LED lights, Cuomo was shy on details of facial recognition cameras.

“At each crossing, and at structurally sensitive points on bridges and tunnels, advanced cameras and sensors will be installed to read license plates and test emerging facial recognition software and equipment," Cuomo said.
“We’re going to be using this in Penn-Farley and we also want to be testing it in bridges and crossings system,” he added.

It’s therefore not certain how many cameras exactly will be deployed, which agencies will have access to them, what defines a crossing, how this data will be stored, and what photo databases will be used to compare against the faces of the millions of people who enter and leave the city on a daily basis.

According to Vocativ, a spokesperson for the Governor’s office said:

“It’s troubling that we’re one step closer to the world of ‘Minority Report’ without any discussion of the serious privacy concerns that are implicated by this plan,” Mariko Hirose, a senior staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union, told the site.

In his speech, Cuomo said the cameras are necessary for New York to adapt to 21st century security threats.

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“In this age of terrorist activity and lone wolves, if you look at points of vulnerability you’ll go to our tunnels and to our bridges. So really they have to be re-imagined for a new reality,” he said.

Hirose also cautioned against casual implementation of such cameras.

“I think the addition of facial recognition technology that they’re testing is deeply troubling,” she said. “There’s also a sense of a creeping surveillance apparatus. It all starts with one or two cameras or license plate readers, and it continues to expand.”
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