Artificially intelligent (AI) surveillance camera technology that can find out who a person’s friends are and is used in China to track citizens is now available in the U.S.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Californian company Vintra has developed facial recognition software that identifies who a person’s friends and acquaintances are via “correlation analysis” and “co-appearance” technology that scans surveillance camera footage.
Co-appearance technology is currently used by the Chinese government to track citizens, protestors, and political dissidents.
Vintra, which is based in San Jose, California, is reportedly the first Western company to offer the technology for purchase and use in the U.S.
Vintra software uses a method that captures the image of an individual, scans through older surveillance videos of that particular individual subject, and then deploys an algorithm to sort out who has appeared with the subject and with how often.
The AI-powered technology can analyze and track who a person has been with over time, measure the frequency of their interactions, and cross-reference this with other data, such as on a searchable calendar.
According to The Los Angeles Times, several police departments, the IRS, Moderna, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office in Florida are all Vintra’s customers and have used the company’s video analysis tools.
However, none would confirm or deny that they made use of Vintra’s co-appearance technology to the publication.
‘Orwellian Future Come to Life’
Vintra is one of several companies testing new AI and surveillance software with little public scrutiny.
While some state and local governments in the U.S. restrict the use of facial recognition software, there are no federal laws in place in place to regulate or restrict co-appearance technology.
“This is the Orwellian future come to life,” Democrat Senator Edward J. Markey says of the availability of co-appearance technology in the U.S.
“A deeply alarming surveillance state where you’re tracked, marked and categorized for use by public and private sector entities — that you have no knowledge of.”
Markey, from Massachusetts, plans to reintroduce a bill in the coming weeks that would stop the use of facial recognition and biometric solutions by law enforcement at all levels. The bill would require local and state governments to ban them as a condition of winning federal grants.
Regardless, several experts tell The Los Angeles Times that they expect co-appearance technology to become more widely available and widely used in the U.S. in the near future.
As AI surveillance technology continues to advance, some companies have found ways to fight back. In January, PetaPixel featured an Italian clothing line that confuses AI cameras and stops them from recognizing the wearer.
Image credits: All images souced via IVPM.