So a few days ago, someone sent me a CNET article. They were afraid, and don’t want to be identified, because they say “you were right about 5G – we’re fucked”. Now, I don’t like to be right about this kinda thing, but at this point, confirmations of my doomer shit seem to be flowing from a wellspring. So today, meet HOAN TON-THAT, whose bio site calls him “co-founder and CEO of Clearview, a startup company based in New York City creating the next generation of image search technology.” This is a really funny way of saying “the spearhead of a 5G facial-recognition AI dragnet”. I’ve been banging the drum on this shit for years, and I said in the beginning of 2020 that this year would be the unveiling of it, but people thought I was full of shit. Well here it fucking is. So let’s talk about it. Might as well at least get an idea of what we’re up against.
What is Clearview?
Clearview is a facial recognition app which scans public images on social networks, and matches them against images taken through a phone camera, or other device associated with it. It tries to be explicit about not being surveillance, and only being search, but as anyone fucking knows, OSINT, or “open source intelligence”, is a key factor in much of modern surveillance. When Snowden revealed XKEYSCORE, he called it surveillance, even though its primary purpose was scraping public info. Nobody argued with him, because any argument that public info is not a part of surveillance would be absolute trash on the face of it. So let’s be clear – while this app itself is not surveilling you (yet), those who are surveilling you will almost certainly use this app. Anyone insisting otherwise has to be patently and unalterably stupid. So what else do they claim?
They claim it “helps to identify child molesters, murderers, suspected terrorists, and other dangerous people”, under a “stopping criminals” section. The video currently embedded on the site mentions three times it was used, for these purposes, sure. And I’m sure we can all agree that people who attempt a bomb scare, or try to fuck kids need to be destroyed. Sure. But what I’m unsure of is the primary utility of this software. They list three high profile cases of actual dangerous people caught, yeah. But what else do they list? Well, “thousands” of investivgations. We don’t get to know about those. No studies on failure rates have been conducted, at least none I’ve found. And this high profile stuff is significantly less than one percent of the total cases for which they claim responsibility. So yeah, I mean… they could be being honest. Or not. Up in the air I guess.
And we’re just supposed to be okay with not knowing. Hell, they say their tech is “good” for innocent people, claiming “Clearview helps to exonerate the innocent, identify victims of child sexual abuse and other crimes, and avoid eyewitness lineups that are prone to human error.” And like… maybe? But first off, something else I banged the drum on is the idea that streams from cameras could be intercepted with deepfake AIs, and people could easily be framed that way. So if the footage analyzed by this tech is not, itself, questioned, it could lead to a whole new way for innocents to be targeted. No alibi will matter. Nobody will be safe at that point, no matter how good they are. But at least an “independent panel of experts rated Clearview 100% accurate across all demographic groups according to the ACLU’s facial recognition accuracy methodology.” So they won’t guess your race or sex wrong while they destroy your last shreds of hope for privacy. Progress?
“But look at the testimonials section – the NYT, WSJ, and NYP endorse it – how could you not?” Easy. Let’s go over those articles piece by piece.
Written on December 7th, 2019, the NYT article doesn’t fucking once reference facial recognition. The inclusion of this article on the site is nothing more than fearmongering to sell their app, as the app is designed for law enforcement, and only being released to them, so the public has to think this will be its primary use. Now, to be clear, this is one example of NYT being reasonable. They advise parents to “Set rules for when and how your child can interact with others online, Spend time with your child on new games and apps, Talk to your child about online safety, and listen, Encourage your child to raise any concerns with a trusted adult, Be on the lookout for warning signs of abuse, Educate your child about blocking users who make them uncomfortable, Don’t blame your child if abuse arises,” and, “Take charge as your child’s online protector. No one else will.” This is good stuff. But none of it has to do with the subject, meaning its inclusion here is for name recognition and emotional impact, almost exclusively.
The New York Post piece is straightforward, however. Larry Griffin put rice cookers in a subway to scare people about bombs. They weren’t bombs, but they sure arrested him quick. The piece is quick to note “Saving the NYPD hundreds of man-hours so cops can get potentially dangerous people off the streets much faster: That’s not Big Brother, but a win for the little guys.”
But that’s the only piece the site credits which directly credits Clearview with the win. The WSJ piece, which is basically propaganda, says right out the gate that “If it is bound by good legal protections, the technology is a boon, not a tool for tyranny.” Well, first, to that, I’ll respond with a quote from Walter Williams… “How does something immoral, when done privately, become moral when it is done collectively? Furthermore, does legality establish morality? Slavery was legal; apartheid is legal; Stalinist, Nazi, and Maoist purges were legal. Clearly, the fact of legality does not justify these crimes. Legality, alone, cannot be the talisman of moral people.” I think that addresses that relatively well. But to move on, the article goes on to compare facial recognition tech to prints. Then it says that anyone in public has no expectation of privacy (something pigs demanding citizens not record them should realize by the way), and goes on to claim that, because dragnet surveillance is illegal, they won’t do it. Absurd! Snowden’s revelations, as well as that of tens of other whistleblowers, prove it happens all the fuckin time! It goes on to dismiss bias in facial recognition as simply a bug in a growing system, unilaterally side with cops, and then blithely ignore the possible similarities to China, which I’m about to go over. It ends by saying “Cops can’t do extended surveillance without a judge’s warrant. We can make databases inaccessible except with a judge’s consent. Heck, use the judge’s face as the ID. Facial recognition will only get better. But we ought to can the hysteria. So long as the tech is properly limited in use to avoid fishing expeditions, we’ll all be safer.” So let me get this straight – the state can watch us at all times in public, recording all we do there, and if they get a warrant, they can do it everywhere else. But dragnets don’t happen because they’re illegal (even though that’s obviously a fucking lie), and anyone who’s concerned about emerging tech should “can it”? Fuck you, Andy Kessler! But you’ll note something… not once did this piece bring up Clearview. So that’s the modus. Scare you with an article about kids online, show how they react to threats, and make you believe they have the solution. Problem, reaction, solution… where have I heard that before?
So why am I not canning it?
Well, because I’ve seen this movie before – literally. In China, there’s an ad up for “state-owned telecom giant China Mobile’s new 5G network”.
In the ad, a plainclothes pig wearing smart glasses is constantly watching a crowded subway, and when his glasses pick up a person of interest, the fuzz turns on a 5G facial recognition tracker, and likely also a video feed to some central database, and a chase whose production could rival a Bourne movie ensues, wherein the alleged criminal is chased into an alleyway. Once the criminal evades capture, he switches to a nearly entirely new outfit, and gets out a face mustache and hair hat. He successfully ditches the cops, but only for a facial recognition cam on the street level to see him, sending a near-instant 5G alert to the original pig, who uses a system of face scanning not dissimilar the that which Clearview purports to use, identifies the suspect in question, and resumes the chase. The suspect evades again, stealing a bike. So the cops activate a permanent, remotely triggered spike strip in the alleyway, destroying the tires and flipping him. The arrest is then made, and the ad finishes with a glowing “5G”, advertising that it makes smart cities possible. If this sounds like CToS from Watch Dogs to you, congratulations on being a true pro gamer and a person of taste. If it also sounds absolutely fucking terrifying, congratulations… your brain works. And considering that, according to ZDNet, this 5G facial recognition tech is also being considered for purchase implementation, there may even come a point where you can’t do business without it. Great! Maybe that’s why Quartz had an article highlighting that one of the many things Hong Kong protesters did is destroy these cameras. And in the same piece, highlighted that China’s trying to get other countries in on the same level of mass surveillance. But remember guys… it can’t happen here.
Except it can, and millions of people are helping it happen. In the US, Clearview is watching your every move, all the time. And with mandated RealID, that will get worse, too. Sure, it’s illegal for the *government* to do that (despite them constantly fucking doing it anyway), but with the help of online networks, and the people who use them, we’re now being watched all the time. The Cnet article I mentioned earlier says this:
“What if a stranger could snap your picture on the sidewalk then use an app to quickly discover your name, address and other details? A startup called Clearview AI has made that possible, and its app is currently being used by hundreds of law enforcement agencies in the US, including the FBI, says a Saturday report in The New York Times. The app, says the Times, works by comparing a photo to a database of more than 3 billion pictures that Clearview says it’s scraped off Facebook, Venmo, YouTube and other sites. It then serves up matches, along with links to the sites where those database photos originally appeared. A name might easily be unearthed, and from there other info could be dug up online. The size of the Clearview database dwarfs others in use by law enforcement. The FBI’s own database, which taps passport and driver’s license photos, is one of the largest, with over 641 million images of US citizens. The Clearview app isn’t currently available to the public, but the Times says police officers and Clearview investors think it will be in the future.”
But this app isn’t new. In fact, the wiki for it leads to an interesting article for NYT penned almost exactly a year ago. In it, it highlights some things… “Until recently, Hoan Ton-That’s greatest hits included an obscure iPhone game and an app that let people put Donald Trump’s distinctive yellow hair on their own photos.” So there you go… another example of a guy running a “fun” app who later turns out to want to use your photos for nefarious purposes! The last time this happened, it was with Faceapp, and since the people behind that were Russian, everyone freaked out. I reckon Australians can’t abuse your data though. Nah. No way. The piece goes on to say, “His tiny company, Clearview AI, devised a groundbreaking facial recognition app. You take a picture of a person, upload it and get to see public photos of that person, along with links to where those photos appeared. The system — whose backbone is a database of more than three billion images that Clearview claims to have scraped from Facebook, YouTube, Venmo and millions of other websites — goes far beyond anything ever constructed by the United States government or Silicon Valley giants.” You hear that? Millions of other sites. It goes on to say that more than 600 LEO agencies already use it… and then reveals something chilling. The app has buried in its code, a way to link this to AR glasses and other smart vision tech. Just. Like. The. Chinese. 5G. Surveillance. State.
The article then goes on to make some extraordinary claims… not only does he want it everywhere, but this tech has been used by LEOs since 2017, under the name “Smartcheckr”. When they rebranded, they saw startup capital from Peter Thiel, noted member of the Bilderberg steering committee. Very interesting… considering that in 2019, Bilderberg’s agenda included the “weaponization of social media”, “the ethics of AI”, and “China”, all as key talking points.
But nevermind that, prole… can the paranoia, do as you’re told… and maybe the 5G dragnet we’re totally not building will leave you alone! “But why does it need to be 5G you’re angry with? Why can’t you just let people enjoy new things? Nutjob!” Well, there’s this little thing called latency and bandwidth. Only certain amounts of data can even be transferred on a network to begin with, and only so fast. The amount of time it takes for data to send to another place, so that place can serve the data to another (normally called “ping”) is not good enough with wireless tech to have any significant active monitoring systems in place, because real time readings need next to no latency, and high bandwidth. It’s not good enough… except in China, and other places adopting their 5G tech. With this new tech? Both problems are usually solved. Extremely high bandwidth, and pinprick latency, means that these networks are even good enough for gaming. That’s why so many games companies like Razer have come out with “gaming phones”. It’s literally gonna be good enough for that. Everywhere. So think about those speeds, and remember the latency, and suddenly this Clearview tech doesn’t seem so friendly, now goddamn does it?
Because the 5G dragnet is here. The one Corbett warned about. The one people like me have been warning you about, for years, so you could laugh. Hell, even the companies are laughing. At you. They hired Bill Nye to “explain” 5G to people, and all he did was essentially mosk people for asking. I mean, maybe the actual waves are safe – maybe they aren’t. The antenna workers certainly aren’t all happy with the safety. An ABC news report cites safety commissions concerned about cell towers, claiming they’re “open microwaves, which can cause eye damage, sterility, and cognitive damages”.
But nevermind all that, because one thing most people can agree to is a desire for privacy. And in the end, this is a threat to that. Further, people hate the dystopias they fear coming. Everyone hates “Orwellian” shit, but when it comes time to fight the telescreens from 1984, prior to their installation, most people appear ambivalent, if not outright acquiescing, so they can get a smart TV. And now, your social media presence is being weaponized against you, by a secretive company funded by Bilderberg heads, to build a system of constant tracking and surveillance. Plus, let’s be specific… eventually, drones will make humans with glasses obsolete, and if you want to be tracked all the time, not coming out in opposition of this is a poor choice. Given that a month ago, DHS said they wanted these cams on home soil, you should be worried. Very worried.
So stay vigilant. What little freedom you have left is being stripped from you, under the guise of protecting you. The US government is circumventing illegal modes of surveillance by using corporations and infrastructure as a surrogate for its monitors. It’s also weaponizing social media against you, to make the US more like China, and trying to play at your desires f or an ethical society to make it happen. It’s doing so, consistent with Bilderberg plans, through an app developed by a company partly funded by someone on the Bilderberg steering committee, and it has code designed to mimic the totalitarian Chinese facial recognition system. It can happen here, and it is. So what are you going to do about it?
I mean, I guess we could all be furries – that seems to work.
a group of furries in costume is being accosted by casino staff for foiling the facial recognition system. #PeakDefcon
— yan (@bcrypt) July 30, 2017
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