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Iran shares more on using facial recognition to police hijabs

Iran shares more on using facial recognition to police hijabs

Iranian authorities have shared more details on the country’s upcoming law introducing facial recognition surveillance against women who fail to wear hijabs.

According to the proposed Hijab and Chastity Bill, the police must create “intelligent systems for identifying perpetrators of illegal behavior using tools such as fixed and mobile cameras,” Iran International reports.

Another article of the law requires the private sector including banks, transport companies, stores and businesses to upload CCTV footage to the police command of the Islamic Republic of Iran (FARAJA)” to identify violators.

“We mandate that all entities, including the private sector to provide their cameras to FARAJA. All cameras must be connected to FARAJA,” says Amir Hossein Bankipour, a member of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution and the Iranian parliament.

Iranians who fail to adhere to hijab regulations will go through face identification by using cameras. After photographing, their identities will be confirmed through “trusted observers.” Those who refuse to be photographed can be handed over to authorities.

Women who resist the hijab law could face financial fines, social media account shutdowns, social exclusion, passport confiscation for up to two years, arrest, and even exile, according to Bankipour. The official has previously said that fines will be directly deducted from their bank accounts with fines amounting to US$400 for repeat offenses.

The Bill was passed by the Parliament last year and is currently under review by the Guardian Council.

Iran’s embrace of facial recognition technology against women who refuse to wear hijab started after the 2022 anti-hijab protests ignited by the death of a young woman named Mahsa Amini in police custody. The Islamic regime has promised to cross-check social media posts from women without hijabs with the national ID database and allocated funds to install more cameras.

Last year, the city of Mashhad deployed facial recognition in the metro to intimidate women into wearing hijabs, while in May this year, Tehran’s International Book Fair was surveilled by drones equipped with cameras.

Experts, however, are still uncertain about the abilities of Iran’s law enforcement to apply facial recognition, noting that the technology is being used to scare people into compliance.

Women have been receiving police notices on hijab violations, despite having no contact with the police, indicating that facial recognition or license plate recognition may have been used to spot them. Other women say they are being photographed by strangers in public and that facial recognition tech is being used to identify them, Rest of World reports. Authorities have launched an app called Nazer for reporting individuals who wear inappropriate clothing.

Last year, a hacktivist group called GhostSec claimed to have breached a facial recognition software system that Iranian authorities were allegedly using for mass surveillance.

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