New Zealand’s involvement with facial recognition technology

New Zealand’s involvement with facial recognition technology

The NZ government is up with the very worst of them. 

Global facial recognition company NEC working closely with New Zealand Governmen


19 August, 2020

A major company at the centre of controversies over facial recognition technology in the US and UK is working closely with the New Zealand Government.

The Tokyo-based NEC, which has resisted a Black Lives Matter-inspired ban in America, is updating passport systems here using its powerful NeoFace system.

NEC gets to run the system for 10 years till 2029, under a contract worth at least $4m with the Department of Internal Affairs, that is mentioned briefly in a parliamentary report.

NeoFace will be used from next January.

“It will be used to check photos against our database and help investigate potential fraud,” the department said in a statement.

NeoFace is controversial for its other major use globally – identifying up to 1000 “persons of interest” per minute in real-time feeds from CCTV cameras.

In the UK this month, an appeals court ruled the use by police in Wales of NeoFace was unlawful and a violation of human rights.

NEC itself is on the wrong side of a pushback against facial recognition in the US.

There, three tech giants Amazon, IBM and Microsoft in June called a halt to supplying the tech to US police in a moratorium over brutality against blacks.

But NEC, like some other major suppliers, has not followed suit.

“We are committed to developing technologies that help support efforts to end racial injustice in our society,” NEC said in a statement.

The three that called a halt are relatively small players in facial recognition and a Washington Post tech columnist said the “publicity stunt” would make little difference, especially since the companies would still sell to other users.

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