It is not for the terrorists, it is for YOU

April 25th, 2008

Airline passengers are to be screened with facial recognition technology rather than checks by passport officers, in an attempt to improve security and ease congestion, the Guardian can reveal.

This means they can eventually fire all the immigration staff, who have blithely gone along with all this nonsense. They should have watched, The Man in the White Suit before they went gung ho for the biometric net….

From summer, unmanned clearance gates will be phased in to scan passengers’ faces and match the image to the record on the computer chip in their biometric passports.

Border security officials believe the machines can do a better job than humans of screening passports and preventing identity fraud. The pilot project will be open to UK and EU citizens holding new biometric passports.

What they are saying that is for the decades that humans have been comparing faces to passports, it has not been working well.

What utter nonsense.

Computer programmers have been working for years to make software that can match the human brain’s ability to recognize faces, and they still have not got it right. The best tool for recognizing a face is a human brain in a living person. What this is actually about is automating the checking of innocent people against criminal databases. This system does not simply check that the person carrying the passport is the person in front of the machine; it checks wether or not the police want you, which is nothing to do with plain immigration. Immigration controls work well without biometric passports. The first control should be getting out of Shengen and the other damaging EU treaties that allow anyone to enter your country from almost anywhere.

But there is concern that passengers will react badly to being rejected by an automated gate. To ensure no one on a police watch list is incorrectly let through, the technology will err on the side of caution and is likely to generate a small number of “false negatives” – innocent passengers rejected because the machines cannot match their appearance to the records.

And this is what we have been saying for years; the computer will say wether or not you are guilty or wanted. When a false positive comes up, what sort of extra checks will they make? Will they DNA swab you, harshly interrogate you (both of which means detaining you) all on the say of a COMPUTER.

This, my friends, is total insanity.

They may be redirected into conventional passport queues, or officers may be authorised to override automatic gates following additional checks.

Why take the risk of being embarrassed in that way? Why not just queue normally and not have your details checked against the criminal computer?

Ministers are eager to set up trials in time for the summer holiday rush, but have yet to decide how many airports will take part. If successful, the technology will be extended to all UK airports.

Ministers are retarded. Period.

The automated clearance gates introduce the new technology to the UK mass market for the first time and may transform the public’s experience of airports.

Ahhh, a Guardian fluff line!

Existing biometric, fast-track travel schemes – iris and miSense – operate at several UK airports, but are aimed at business travellers who enroll in advance.


The rejection rate in trials of iris recognition, by means of the unique images of each traveller’s eye, is 3% to 5%, although some were passengers who were not enrolled but jumped into the queue.


The trials emerged at a conference in London this week of the international biometrics industry, top civil servants in border control, and police technology experts. Gary Murphy, head of operational design and development for the UK Border Agency, told one session: “We think a machine can do a better job [than manned passport inspections]. What will the public reaction be? Will they use it? We need to test and see how people react and how they deal with rejection. We hope to get the trial up and running by the summer.

I want to see how Neu Labour deal with rejection….ha!

Some conference participants feared passengers would only be fast-tracked to the next bottleneck in overcrowded airports. Automated gates are intended to help the government’s progress to establishing a comprehensive advance passenger information (API) security system that will eventually enable flight details and identities of all passengers to be checked against a security watch list.

My emphasis.

The Guardian is one of the guilty parties for using this sort of language unchallenged. What on earth do they mean by ‘security watch list’? Who says who goes on it, who maintains it, etc etc. The americans are having a hell of a time with their own misguided ‘security watch lists’ that have nothing whatsoever to do with security, but which have everything to do with what sort of books you read.

Phil Booth of the No2Id Campaign said: “Someone is extremely optimistic. The technology is just not there. The last time I spoke to anyone in the facial recognition field they said the best systems were only operating at about a 40% success rate in a real time situation. I am flabbergasted they consider doing this at a time when there are so many measures making it difficult for passengers.”

And even if it worked 100% of the time, is it moral? This is the question we will never see asked outside of the internets.

Gus Hosein, a specialist at the London School of Economics in the interplay between technology and society, said: “It’s a laughable technology. US police at the SuperBowl had to turn it off within three days because it was throwing up so many false positives. The computer couldn’t even recognise gender. It’s not that it could wrongly match someone as a terrorist, but that it won’t match them with their image. A human can make assumptions, a computer can’t.”

And they are not using this to find ‘terrorists’ because those people are not on the system as criminals. They only get onto the system AFTER they have done a martyrdom operation. These systems are snake oil, and once again, they are not for ‘terrorists’ they are for YOU the ordinary person, so that they can control and monitor YOU, to force you to comply with the smallest of laws.

Eventually, the ‘security watch list’ that this journalist glosses over will be accessible to every council worker who will be able to put your name on the list so they can apprehend you and your children for, say, not attending school, or putting the paper garbage in the glass bin.

If you do not think this will happen, then you are insane. Just as RIPA is being used to spy on parents trying to get their children into good schools, these biometric gates, ‘the biometric net’ and ‘security watch lists’ will be used in every conceivable…and inconceivable…way.

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear, right?

Project Semaphore, the first stage in the government’s e-borders programme, monitors 30m passenger movements a year through the UK. By December 2009, API will track 60% of all passengers and crew movements. The Home Office aim is that by December 2010 the system will be monitoring 95%. Total coverage is not expected to be achieved until 2014 after similar checks have been introduced for travel on “small yachts and private flights”.

The best laid plans….here is another scenario.

After massive public rejection of the surveillance state, and country wide vandalism of the millions of CCTV cameras in the UK, it was decided to remove all traces of the monitoring apparatus that cast a debilitating fog over life in the UK. Like the fall of East Germany and the STASI, the changes came overnight as the revulsion over the mutated form of British life became universal and ‘went nuclear’.

“We are not going to live like this anymore. Britain has been turned into a prison, and we have had enough”

Parliament has drawn up a list of all ‘database state’ laws going back to the early days of the now discredited Blair government, all of which are to be struck off the books in one fell swoop.

“This has been a long time in coming, but the writing has been on the wall for years; the silent grumbling of the British public has turned into an earthquake of non-violent dissent. Just like the Berlin Wall, the database state has been dismantled one camera at a time in a single day, without any opposition from the police.”

So far around 8m to 10m UK biometric passports, containing a computer chip holding the carrier’s facial details, have been issued since they were introduced in 2006. The last non-biometric passports will cease to be valid after 2016.

Can you hear the sound?

Home Office minister Liam Byrne said: “Britain’s border security is now among the toughest in the world and tougher checks do take time, but we don’t want long waits. So the UK Border Agency will soon be testing new automatic gates for British and European Economic Area [EEA] citizens. We will test them this year and if they work put them at all key ports [and airports].”

And if they DONT work?

That is an interesting question!!!!!

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