July 3, 2020
Facial Recognition Technology Comes to Russian Schools
Two weeks ago some Russian media outlets reported a chilling, yet unsurprising for our time case.
43,000 Russian schools will install cameras that will support facial recognition technology developed by NTechLab.
The technology behind a $25.4 million project is ironically named “Orwell”, and it is called upon to protect children from outsiders, monitor their activity and attendance, plus track the working hours of the teachers.
The masterminds behind this initiative claim that school databases will be stored locally to avoid data breaches, plus stated that children will not be added without parental permission.
But how is it going to play out in reality?
Initial Reactions and Thoughts on “Orwell”
The cheek on them to call it “Orwell”! My first reaction was simple — is it April 1st?
Sadly, it’s not, and VisorJet Smart Mini cameras are planned to be situated in classrooms, corridors, halls, staircases, and the nearby school territory.
Some teachers rejoiced, saying that now parents will finally see how their kids behave in the classroom, but there were no talks about live streaming.
Even if parents could watch the class, many of them would be outraged about the level of education offered by most teachers, a great issue that doesn’t get the attention, let alone funding.
Some point out that “digitalization” would magically fix bullying and prevent student rah-rah, but that couldn’t be further from the truth, pushing young people to extremes in the moments when they are not watched.
You don’t install cameras in toilets and locker rooms… right? Better not give them more ideas.
Some of that money could be used to fix the mentioned toilets and locker rooms, but those do not provide palpable benefits.
Orwell? Oh, Well... Freedom Never Existed School
Another portion of bystanders just dismisses the threat of the trend, saying that news like that belong to the category of “all schools will get the Internet” or “all schools will get a computer class”, but this is different.
In this situation the contractor wins more than the customer, getting loads of biometric data to analyze, process, and sell to third parties.
There’s no information about the process of data collection and handling, and since the project comes after a green light from the president, there are big question marks about the legitimacy of the data protection acts that will be thrown together if (or when) some people express their discontent.
The additional benefits highlighted in the official press release revolve around the possibility to react to fire outbreaks, find lost items, and manage “other unfortunate events”.
Presented benefits are blatantly cherry-picked, but that’s not even the worst thing.
This positioning does not differ from the approach taken by governmental figures hellbent on banning E2EE to “fight child exploitation” without giving children that suffered any attention or care. They hide behind the noble causes doing the dirtiest things.
This project has an actual purpose — use the gathered data to train artificial intelligence algorithms, make children used to 24/7 surveillance and “re-educate” the population to control the bigger narrative.
Plus an opportunity to cut & kickback.
Skynet Is Also Real, It’s a Thing in China
It has over 20 million cameras placed in public spaces across the country, and the state media proudly calls it “the eyes that safeguard China”. Funnily enough, it’s only a translation of its Chinese name “Tianwang”, which means ”justice is always done”.
Only a coincidence, no correlation to the villainous AI from The Terminator.
Irony is a national sport in the post-Soviet countries, but the overall picture is ominous. We are on the verge of “the billboard treatment”, where our current generation doesn’t have any problems with it at all because we are so used to it, but if you ask the elderly — they will tell you how they have ruined the landscape.
People that will grow up under constant monitoring from the government will think nothing of it. For them, it will be normal. Some state schools in the UK have fingerprint systems in place, so this is a real trend that comes to the country near you.
Do not let this tongue-in-cheek approach get to you, because this is a serious issue that gets downplayed deliberately.