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Plans for biometric surveillance reach epic scales with off-putting implications

Plans for biometric surveillance reach epic scales with off-putting implications
 

A pair of troubling reports about plans for intensive biometric surveillance seem drawn from the nightmares of privacy advocates.

The premier of a South Africa province that includes Johannesburg and Pretoria has proposed blanketing the poorest areas in the province.

In Russia, meanwhile, Moscow’s municipal IT department is hoping to interest the city politicians in building a centralized facial recognition data storage facility. All data harvested from Moscow and surveillance cameras around the nation would flow to the new repository.

Gauteng Province leader Panyaza Lesufi is reported saying that his surveillance network would put face biometric cameras on every street. There also reportedly would be 500 drones, a high-performance police car in every ward and eight helicopters.

A data center the size of a sports stadium is proposed to store the resulting petabytes of information, according to MyBroadband, an internet and communications trade publication. Lesufi’s plan could be formally announced this month.

Reportedly, a massive surveillance network is not needed in wealthy corners of Gauteng because they have neighborhood watch programs. There also are 1,850 cameras in Johannesburg, part of a private-business project known as Vumacam.

Moscow‘s effort is more about data control. Other than centralizing data, it does not seem to include a call for more surveillance hardware.

There are growing concerns, voiced by leaders in Moscow, that the city will fall victim to terrorist attacks related to the nation’s war on Ukraine.

Rostec, the state-owned defense conglomerate, could be a part of the proposal or just an ally, according to trade publication Intelligence Online. Rostec has been working on machine learning tools for monitoring public spaces, the publication has reported.

Four primary vendors in Moscow service that city’s large surveillance operations: NtechLab, VisionLabs, Tevian and Belarusian provider Synesis.

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