The key component parts that make up real privacy are invisibility, autonomy and anonymity. We are quickly reaching the point in our modern culture when our anonymity, autonomy and privacy is coming to an end.
Imagine sitting in a coffee shop reading the newspaper or a magazine. There sits is a person with a smart phone opposite who secretly takes a photograph of you without your awareness. Imagine if that person is then able to open an App on their phone and with that single photo is then able to identify you almost instantly, matching your unique photograph to the pictures of you from your social media accounts.
Imagine if this App could search, in mere seconds through millions and millions of social media accounts and the photos contained within, and take this stranger straight to your individual account.
Without your knowledge that complete stranger sat opposite in the coffee shop now potentially knows your name, your age, who your spouse is, where you live, how many kids you have, your email address, your cell number, where you live…
Horrifyingly! Imagine a complete stranger taking a photograph of your child and then using this App to locate your children on your social media accounts, and from there finding out where they live.
FindFace is a new facial recognition App that boasts a 70 percent accuracy rate in finding and then locating social media accounts from just one single photograph. Currently it works only on the Russian based VK social media platform. To date, this App has been downloaded more than 500,000 times in Russia and has searched through more than three million unique facial photographs.
Kasperksy Lab recently tested the software using its own employees as guinea pigs and they were able to quickly find 90 percent of their “targets” using the App.
Alexander Kabakov, FindFace’s founder claimed that “…with this algorithm, you can search through a billion photographs in less than a second from a normal computer.”
This is how Kabakov envisions the App being used for dating,
“If you see someone you like, you can photograph them, find their identity, and then send them a friend request. It also looks for similar people. So you could just upload a photo of a movie star you like, or your ex, and then find 10 girls who look similar to her and send them messages.”
There are, however, other even more potential nefarious uses for this software. This software, and the improvements that will steadily add to its effectiveness and efficiency, make it an ideal tool for the state to use in law enforcement, or surveillance.
Russian police are using this software in real-time already, in conjunction with live stream video cameras around Moscow. Using live feeds and the software package in tandem the Russian police are searching for criminals in real time over Moscow’s vast network of cameras. They are netting results too. As Kabakov says, “…its nuts: there were cases that had seen no movement for years, and now they are being solved.”
FindFace is different from other facial recognition software that currently exists. FindFace uses less computational power and resources than other face recognition software. This means that if authorities wanted to, they could quite easily begin logging every single person in the country, in much the same way as they do car number plates.
Ultimately, if authorities were to use this tool to track, crack down on and identify dissidents, for example—then via city wide camera networks they could easily identify and locate almost any and all targets selected. In short, this software, which governments are keen to take advantage of will ultimately spell the end of any kind of public anonymity for everyone who ventures out in public and also operates a social media account.
Kasperksy Lab’s advice on how to avoid detection is simple; take down all photos of yourself from social media platforms and cover your head and face whilst in public. Otherwise, the potential for anybody to use this software and identify you is real and unavoidable.
We live in a time unlike any other in history, this has never happened before. The Internet is killing our privacy and we as a society are willingly acquiescing to this for the wonders we get back in return.
As Brian Stelter observed:
The collective intelligence of the Internet’s two billion users, and the digital fingerprints that so many users leave on websites, combine to make it more and more likely that every embarrassing video, every intimate photo, and every indelicate email is attributed to its source, whether that source wants it to be or not.
Everything that we are doing in private is increasingly being done in public via the Internet. Technology has invaded our private spheres, and mostly with our complete approval. The Internet is the place where our anonymity has effectively died.
Almost every single piece of information related to us can now be found online, from when and where we were born, to the names of our parents, spouses and children, to the company or business we work for. The house we live in can be seen in 3D via Google Maps or as a birds-eye view via Google Earth.
Our social security numbers can be found, our telephone numbers, tax returns and any information related to any possible convictions people have. Almost any individual—especially employers—can gain insight as to who you really are when nobody is watching via the social networks you frequent which in turn reveal what your political persuasions are, which football team you support, how very cute your dog is and what you do on a Saturday night.
Governments can find and access our complete Internet browsing history, legally or illegally. They can find all our bank accounts and see who and where the money from these accounts go. They can access our smartphones or track them in real time to discover where you are. Triangulating cell phone signals with others in the area they can get even get a clear picture of who you are with whom you talk.
The Snowden revelations have shown that governments can listen in to our conversations by turning the microphone of our phones on, all without our knowledge or permission. They can observe and monitor us while we watch the TV, via our internet connected TV or the laptop that has been left open on our coffee tables.
The Internet has killed privacy. The erosion of our individual autonomy, anonymity and invisibility will only get worse with each passing year. The Internet, without most knowing or being in any way aware—is taking our freedoms from us, and ever so gradually enslaving us in preparation for the man of sin who will soon come.
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