Why you should get your face painted if you're marching against Trump

Posted by Donnchadh Greene on 11 July 2018

This Friday thousands of people will march in the ‘carnival of resistance’. And in the spirit of the day, Liberty will be staging its own act of resistance – painting faces to throw off intimidating, intrusive and discriminatory facial recognition cameras.

Police forces across the country have been rolling out facial recognition surveillance technology on our streets, and protest groups have told us it could put them off exercising their right to protest in the future.

So we will be making protesters up using ‘Camera Dazzle’, a style of face paint that makes it difficult for this authoritarian tech to scan your face.

Intrusive, discriminatory and lawless

Facial recognition cameras are far more intrusive than regular CCTV. They scan the distinct points of your face to create a unique biometric map – more like a fingerprint than a CCTV image.

These maps are then measured and matched against images stored on bespoke police watchlists. It’s not always clear how these watchlists are populated – South Wales Police has even said they might grab pictures from social media accounts.

And if you are caught by a facial recognition camera – which indiscriminately scans every face within its range – your image and that deeply personal map may be stored too.

Police use of facial recognition on our streets is a massive invasion of privacy and forces people to alter their behaviour. Liberty’s client Ed Bridges knows just how intimidating it can be. He was scanned at a peaceful protest in March and is now taking South Wales Police to court to stop their use of the tech.

It has also been shown to be inaccurate and more likely to misidentify women and BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) people. We witnessed a young woman matched with a balding man at Notting Hill Carnival last year. Just two weeks ago we saw a young black man stopped and searched in front of hundreds of people when he bore very little resemblance to his ‘match’.

No law allows the police to use the tech in this way, there is no guidance on how to use it and there is no independent oversight to prevent abuse of our rights. They need to stop using it immediately.

Camera Dazzle

Camera Dazzle cons the cameras – painting geometric shapes to cover certain key areas stops the facial recognition algorithms from recognising a face.

Although we have had assurances this tech will not be used on Friday, it has previously been deployed at protests with no prior public knowledge or consultation and we will be sending a clear signal that we won’t stand for it.

Look out for us on Friday and get your face painted to stand with us against this erosion of our rights.

Donnchadh Greene Liberty

Donnchadh Greene

Liberty
Advice and Information Officer