Hong Kong Police Have AI Tech That Can Recognize Faces

Hong Kong law enforcement authorities have access to artificial intelligence software that can match faces from any video footage to police databases, reports Blake Schmidt for Bloomberg. However, it is unclear if the tech is being used to quell months-long pro-democracy protests, according to people familiar with the matter.

Schmidt reports that police have been able to use the technology from Sydney-based iOmniscient for at least three years, and engineers from the company have trained dozens of officers on how to use it, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. The software can scan footage including from closed-circuit television to automatically match faces and license plates to a police database and pick out suspects in a crowd.

In addition to tracking criminals, iOminiscient’s artificial intelligence can be used for everything from finding lost children to managing traffic. In one training session that took place after the protests began in June, the people said, officers asked how to automatically identify license plate numbers using dashboard cameras.

While Hong Kong’s government has disclosed some ways it uses facial recognition technology, Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s administration and the police haven’t publicly confirmed whether they are using it to monitor the recent protests. Patrick Nip, secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, said in June that no government department had procured or developed automated facial recognition-CCTV systems or applied the technology in CCTV systems.

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