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Russia’s face ID based payments system for Moscow Metro has activists up in arms

Russia’s past record for using facial recognition tech to crack down on protestors shows that this could be a dangerous step.

surveillance, cctv

Despite the UN Human Rights Office recently calling for a moratorium on the deployment of facial recognition tech in public spaces, Moscow has deployed a facial-ID based payments system for its metro. The system, called 'Face Pay', went live across 240 metro stations in the Russian capital on October 15, according to The Guardian. Government officials claimed that the system is the 'largest use of FRT' in the world even as Russian privacy campaigners raised surveillance concerns. While the government says that the photographs collected will be encrypted, activists believe the data could end up in the hands of Russian security services either way. Read: Data Leaks – Trading Internal Control For External Vulnerability: Russian Edition How will this system work? According to the report, commuters on the metro would have to get their faces scanned by cameras installed above the turnstiles at the station. For this to work, commuters would have to connect their metro cards to their photograph and bank account on Mosmetro's mobile app. Moscow's department of information technology says that the photos collected through the FRT system will be stored in an encyrpted GIS ETSHD system (Moscow's Unified Data Storage and Processing Center) and that this will not be shared with police authorities. The system is not mandatory, although Moscow authorities expect a 10-15% adoption rate among metro riders in the next two to three years. Whats the problem with FRT? Moscow already has a 1,00,000 CCTV-strong surveillance system in the city, and according to reports,…

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I cover health technology for MediaNama but, really, love all things tech policy. Always willing to chat with a reader! Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

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