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Getting a peek at little-known gov’t mobile facial recognition app in Istanbul

Getting a peek at little-known gov’t mobile facial recognition app in Istanbul

Turkey’s Interior Minister is showing off mobile software billed as a state-developed facial recognition app capable of identifying all residents of the nation based on a live photo captured by a phone.

Süleyman Soylu consented to an interview with the founder of Shiftdelete.net, an online culture publisher in Turkey, as Soylu drove along Istanbul streets.

As head of the Interior Ministry, he is a powerful figure in Turkish politics. He is controversial, too, though, for being photographed in the company of noteworthy criminals, according to reports.

A video with Turkish transcription can be found here. Machine translation by Google is unintelligible.

According to Shiftdelete’s own account of the meeting, Soylu was open with his iPhone, letting publication founder Yigit Can Polat finger through menus, files and apps.

One of apps was KIM (“who” in English). It appears to be a local take on Clearview AI‘s face biometrics identification app.

Turkey launched a centralized national biometrics database at the beginning of 2022, which the app may use for reference images, as opposed to images from web, which Clearview uses.

Government KIM searches had been around 400 on an average day, Soylu reportedly told Polat, but that number has risen to more than 1,000.

It is conceivable that KIM could get much more use.

The minister takes a hard line of political opposition and terrorists, which often seem to be one and the same for Soylu. According to press reports, he has unilaterally removed local politicians for allegedly not being loyal enough to the current regime and replacing them with hand-picked people.

The minister also showed the Polat samples of a new chipped driver’s license.

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