Facial recognition in Iranian Metro being used as scare tactic to enforce hijab
In Mashhad, Iran, facial recognition systems are being deployed to intimidate women into wearing hijabs, according to Iran International.
On Monday, social editor for the city’s Khorasan newspaper, Vahid Tafrihi, brought the situation to light in an Instagram post that included a photo of one of the monitors that now displays the age and gender of subway passengers along with photos taken from CCTV surveillance.
“This is the Shariati Station of Line One of Mashhad Metro. The photo of all people who pass by CCTV cameras is shown together with age and gender information on large monitors. Can the municipality explain what it is seeking to achieve by this?” asked Tafrihi.
The age and gender on the monitors seemed to be taken from identity documents tied to passengers’ travel payment cards.
Individuals on social media claim the monitors were first installed at the city’s railway station roughly six months ago and began being used in the city’s subway system and airport a month ago.
The post has since been deleted, but a screenshot continues to be shared on social media. In a tweet posted on Tuesday, Arash Hashemi, another journalist in the city, said that the monitors appear to have stopped showing the identifying information at the time.
“Mashhad subway’s disclosure of passengers’ personal information is an obvious violation of citizenship rights, causes loss of security and psychological peace, and destroys the ruling systems’ image,” tweeted conservative politician and former lawmaker Keyvan Saedy. “It indicates misunderstanding and insult to Islam even if it is done for [enforcing] the religious duty of hijab,” he continued.
City council member Hasan Mansourian told Faraz Daily that “we don’t know who is controlling them,” further noting the monitor must somehow be connected to a central server such as those of the state registration organization, which issues national IDs.
Several months back, GhostSec, a group of hacktivists, managed to breach a facial recognition software system that Iranian authorities were allegedly using for mass surveillance.