Facial Recognition to Take Over Google Campus

facial recognition, security camera, google, employees, surveillance, threat

Google is testing facial recognition security cameras at its Seattle campus.

  • The database consists of employees’ ID badge images.
  • While they want to keep their employees safe, they will probably monitor them.

Google is fitting its Seattle campus with facial recognition security cameras, placing its employees under intense and constant surveillance.

Facial recognition systems, which match a face from an image or video against a database containing faces, are not new; they have been around since the 1960s. Granted, it wasn’t till the 1990s that it became automatic under the watchful eye of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) and the Army Research Laboratory (ARL).

Over the years, the technology only became more sophisticated with the growth of computer power, machine learning (ML), data availability, and algorithm development. However, its use was met with a lukewarm, verging on cold, reception by the public. People were concerned about privacy invasion and the misuse of facial recognition security. Some even called into question its accuracy.

Despite how vocal the public was, companies went ahead and liberally used the technology in airports and law enforcement. It turns out that those who questioned its accuracy were sort of right, as facial recognition systems in security cameras turned out to be racist. It also mistakenly accused innocent people of crimes. Under the guise of security, there are companies still placing their employees under borderline unjust surveillance.

Oh, Google…

CNBC has reported that Google will be testing facial recognition cameras for its Seattle campus’s security. The document states that Google’s Security and Resilience Services (GSRS) team’s foal is “to help prevent unauthorized individuals from gaining access to our campuses.”

The interior security cameras—note how it’s not external ones—collect data that the facial recognition software then compares to the dataset. This database is composed of employee badge images. If a face cannot be matched to anyone in the database, security is alerted to an intruder.

According to the document, people entering the building cannot deny facial screening, but the data is not stored. As for the employees, there’s a form that they can fill out if they wish to be excluded. Google confirmed to CNBC that they used the ID badges during testing. However, once done, they will be excluded.

They’ve Got Their Eye on You

Apparently, Google is a target of a lot of people’s anger, and some are even willing to act on their anger. In fact, in 2018, a woman injured three people at YouTube’s office when she opened fire because the company was blocking her videos. So, facial recognition security cameras are understandable. But there’s doubt that that’s all there is to it.

You see, Google supposedly loves its employees as long as they are silent and doing their jobs, no questions asked. Coincidently, Google laid over 50 workers back in April after labor conditions and Project Nimbus protests. Project Nimbus is Google’s and Amazon’s joint contract to provide Israel with cloud computing and AI services.

According to an audio heard by CNBC, Google’s vice president of global security, Chris Rackow admitted that the company used all its video footage to identify all the individuals involved. Now imagine how fast that would have happened if facial recognition security cameras were used then.

They say they want to use it to keep campus safe from people “who may pose a security risk to Google’s people, products, or locations.” We’ve learned over the years that what Big Tech says and does are two very different things.

By installing facial recognition security cameras inside the building, the company can closely monitor who went where and when to do what. They start trying to eliminate intruders, and then one day, HR will knock at your door with a folder of every cigarette, bathroom, and coffee break you ever took on the clock during your employment.

Final Thoughts

Facial recognition systems and security cameras are questionable when law enforcement uses them. But they are worrisome when your employer does. George Orwell’s “1984” was supposed to be neither a prophecy nor an inspiration, but apparently, the cautionary tale flew over our heads. Is it time to invest in some anti-facial recognition clothing?

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