For Moscow’s quarantined, 100,000 cameras are watching

first_img‘Big Brother’ “Due to stronger data protection laws in Europe, facial recognition has not yet been implemented on a large scale. Russian and Chinese companies have had less legal constraints to gather and use data than their European counterparts,” Weber told AFP.Before the coronavirus pandemic, critics warned of the potential for excessive state surveillance reminiscent of the all-seeing “Big Brother” in George Orwell’s novel “1984”.The fear was that rather than protecting the general public, the cameras would be used to monitor Kremlin opponents and undermine civil liberties. “The security argument is the one always used to justify loss of privacy and personal liberty. That’s where the greatest problem and the greatest danger lie,” said French cybersecurity researcher and renowned hacker Baptiste Robert.The technology’s creator Minin says that he has confidence in the Moscow authorities and insists that personal data like passport details and phone numbers is not stored on the same databases as camera images.He says the data sets can only be matched by law enforcement if deemed strictly necessary.But opponents see such technology as threatening, given the Soviet history of mass surveillance of those deemed by the KGB secret police to be state enemies.Vocal rights activist and lawyer Alyona Popova launched legal action against the use of facial recognition at an officially authorized opposition protest in September last year.She said cameras were attached to metal detectors that every participant had to pass through. “The massive use of facial recognition technology amounts to state surveillance of its citizens and the state will certainly use it against political opponents,” she told AFP.Her complaint was eventually thrown out, but an online petition she launched on Change.org against the technology’s use gained almost 75,000 signatures before the COVID-19 crisis. The mayor’s office denies the technology is used to monitor the opposition.Yet to highlight the issue, four activists in February protested outside the presidential administration offices, their faces brightly painted with geometrical shapes and lines said to confuse cameras.A similar protest took place in London.”There have already been cases of political activists who were detained in the metro after being identified with the help of cameras,” said one of the protesters, artist Katrin Nenasheva. Four of the activists were later fined 15,000 rubles ($185) after being charged with organizing an unsanctioned protest.NtechLab chief Minin warned that face painting or covering up ultimately won’t help those wanting to avoid being identified.”We can work even when up to 40 percent of the face is covered by a helmet or medical mask,” he said. A vast and contentious network of facial recognition cameras keeping watch over Moscow is now playing a key role in the battle against the spread of the coronavirus in Russia.The city rolled out the technology just before the epidemic reached Russia, ignoring protests and legal complaints over sophisticated state surveillance.Since last month, thousands of Muscovites have been confined to their homes for 14 days of compulsory quarantine after returning from virus-hit countries, being in contact with those infected or diagnosed with mild symptoms. Police have logged their details and warned them that sneaking out into the city of 16 million residents and daily visitors could lead to a five-year jail term or deportation for foreigners.”We are constantly checking that this regulation is being observed, including through the use of automated facial recognition systems,” Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote in his blog in February.The Russian capital already had a tight network of 170,000 security cameras, set up in streets and metro stations throughout the city over the past decade.Around 100,000 have now been linked to artificial intelligence systems that can identify people being filmed. The remaining cameras are due to be connected soon. 600 neighbors Moscow City Hall has boasted that the network of cameras is a particularly effective tool.Sobyanin has said that the authorities have contacts and work addresses for 95 percent of those quarantined after returning from high-risk countries.”We’ve identified where they are,” said the mayor, who heads a working group on combatting the virus set up by Putin.Last month on his blog he praised the efficiency of the facial recognition system with a story of a Chinese woman who tested positive soon after arrival and was hospitalized.Her flatmate was quarantined but security cameras filmed her walking outside and meeting a male friend.The mayor added that the authorities swiftly gathered contacts of more than 600 of the woman’s neighbors and even her taxi driver from the airport. Facial recognition technology was first tested during the 2018 World Cup in Russia before going fully online in January, just before the pandemic hit.”The probability of a mistake by our facial recognition algorithm is 1 in 15 million,” said Alexander Minin, CEO of NtechLab, the company that won the city’s tender to supply the technology.The firm’s devices, which have been exported to China and Latin America, can identify someone from their silhouette alone “80 percent of the time,” he told AFP at the start of the year.Russia alongside China lead the field globally with the most sophisticated technology, which they export to some 100 countries, Valentin Weber, a researcher in cybersecurity at the University of Oxford, wrote in a 2019 paper.center_img Topics : Moscow police said last week that the cameras that are linked have allowed them to identify almost 200 people who broke quarantine rules. As well as the cameras, Russia has said it is drawing on an array of technology to fight the virus, including telemedicine consultations, the real-time monitoring of supermarket shelves and identifying and removing false news stories from social media.President Vladimir Putin last week toured a hi-tech center set up to monitor the virus situation and Russia’s response.The country, as of Monday, had reported 438 coronavirus infections, most of them in Moscow. One person who was infected has died but officials are not linking the death to the virus.last_img read more

New Jay Jay Okocha tipped for England call-up

first_imgRelatedPosts Ighalo: My best moment as ‘Red Devil’ EPL: Saints tackle Mourinho’s Spurs Bale completes Tottenham return from Real Madrid QPR midfielder Eberechi Eze will strengthen his bid for an England call-up if he continues his fine form at club level, according to Les Ferdinand. With the European Championship postponed until 2021 amid the coronavirus pandemic, the club’s director of football believes the England U20 international has the talent to challenge for a place in Gareth Southgate’s squad. Ferdinand concedes Eze may need to be playing in the Premier League to be considered for a senior call-up and, with an impressive return of 12 goals and eight assists in the Championship this season, he is reportedly attracting interest from Tottenham. “A lot of the time you need to be in the Premier League to be recognised but he has shown the kind of form and, if he continues to develop in the way he is developing and keeps showing the type of football he has been playing, he is certainly going to put himself in the frame,” the former QPR and Tottenham striker told Sky Sports News. “People are going to start talking about him playing for England. “He came through and we have got a few others at the club too. Bright Osayi-Samuel is doing extremely well, as is Ryan Manning at left-back. He is not English but he is in the Ireland set-up. “We have got a few young players coming through the system now who we are really excited about. “They are helping us in our campaign this season to finish as high up the league as we possibly can.” After English football was put on hold until at least the end of April as a result of the outbreak, Ferdinand is urging people to follow government guidance on social distancing to help limit the spread of the disease. “We are all up in limbo at the moment in terms of when the season will start again,” he said. “There is lots of talk about when we are going to resume training, but that is all up in the air because the more we don’t isolate, the more this disease will continue to spread and the longer things will take to get back to normal. “It is imperative that people do stay at home, listen to the government advice and the sooner we all adhere to that, the sooner we can get back to some sort of normality.”Tags: Eberechi EzeGareth SouthgateLes FerdinandPremier LeagueQPRTottenhamlast_img read more

Joe Hart denies below-par Manchester City are lacking leaders after Stoke loss

first_img “Conditions were tough but that’s English football – I said before the game no-one would be able to walk of the pitch with an excuse. “It’s not like the wind got up four seconds before kick-off – we knew what we were coming into and Stoke knew what they were coming in to. “A few of the lads are feeling it from the amount of games we’re playing but that’s not an excuse.” Defender Nicolas Otamendi, who has looked relatively comfortable in central defence alongside Kompany or Mangala but was shaky paired with Demichelis, believes they lacked the necessary attitude to win at the Britannia. “Obviously the conditions didn’t suit the way we play but we can’t honestly use that as an excuse,” he said. “We may have lacked a bit of attitude on the pitch but we must look to the next game. We need to show a better impression. “We didn’t perform well but the team always fights and we’ll get a good result next time. “Credit to Stoke, they are strong at home and the conditions suited their style of play and they had a good performance. “Things didn’t go as we expected. We will now look forward to the next game, try to get three points and forget about this game. “We need to keep working hard. We need to keep focused defensively and we need to work hard to amend these errors.” Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart admits the team’s performances have dropped below the minimum required recently but he denies they are suffering from a lack of leadership. But Hart, returning to the side after injury himself and captaining in the absence of Kompany, believes they have enough quality to cope without the influential Belgium international. “We’ve got a great squad and Vinny is a massive part of it but Nico (Otamendi), Martin (Demichelis) and Manga (Eliaquim Mangala – suspended for the Stoke game) are good centre-halves,” he told CityTV. “After a 2-0 loss it’s probably easy to say [Kompany was missed] but we’ll stick together as a squad, work for each other and get through this.” A fourth away game without a win – and the third in a row on the road without a goal – has seen City overtaken by Leicester and Arsenal at the top of the Premier League. Hart admits they have to raise their game, starting on Tuesday when they host Borussia Munchengladbach needing a win and a favour from Sevilla to top their Champions League group – from which they have already qualified – to give them a much-needed easier quarter-final draw. “At the level we’re playing at, we need to turn out performances of seven out of 10 at least every week and rely on some players to produce eights and nines,” added the England international. “That’s how we should be playing and we’re not. Credit to Stoke – I thought they deserved to win. “It was a disappointing start (conceding after just seven minutes) and we couldn’t recover from it. We didn’t play well. Manuel Pellegrini’s side were out-played in every department in the 2-0 defeat at Stoke in which Marko Arnautovic scored twice from assists from the excellent Xherdan Shaqiri and could easily have had a couple more at a windswept Britannia Stadium. City’s defence have recorded just two clean sheets in the last 18 matches, after not conceding a goal in their opening five games of the season, and it is no coincidence the absence of captain Vincent Kompany to injury has affected their stability at the back. Press Associationlast_img read more