Smart Billboards Recognize Cops

There are smart billboards in Russia that change what they display when cops are watching.

Of course there are a gazillion ways this kind of thing will go wrong. I'm more interested in the general phenomenon of smart devices identifying us automatically and without our knowledge.

Posted on June 3, 2015 at 2:15 PM • 14 Comments

Comments

KhavrenJune 3, 2015 3:21 PM

Minority report indeed. We need to come up with science fiction that features the kind of world we want, cause engineers keep making our fiction into fact

Clive RobinsonJune 3, 2015 3:28 PM

The thought occurs to me that all cops start off in uniform on the streets, long before they become plain cloths or undercover.

So a system that combines facial recognition with uniform recognition, could build an interesting database of cops in uniform that then builds a database of offduty cops their hang outs and likely home addresses, from which you could tell when a cop moves to plain cloths or undercover by the changes in behaviour.

Such information would be eye wateringly valuable to certain criminal organisations...

Something tells me this might become "prohibited technology" when some people wake up to the fact that every under cover cop in the country could have their cover compleatly blown in a few years time.

mishehuJune 3, 2015 3:30 PM

I can't wait until these billboards start showing porn adverts whenever a member of ISIS or some other extremist group [that considers pornography - at least publicly - to be a sin] walks in front of it... You know that's bound to happen with this sort of targeted advertising. :-)

Clive RobinsonJune 3, 2015 4:04 PM

@ mishehu,

... You know that's bound to happen with this sort of targeted advertising.

It already happens rather more than you think...

In the UK the satirical magazine "Private Eye" has a column just for such things, and is never short of entries.

As you may know a certain well known search engine puts related adds into the search results page... Well it's caused an issue just yesterday, you might know that a passanger vessel with 400+ passangers capsized and only thirteen people have been rescued. I was searching for news on the incident and low and behold I got a happy cruise holiday advert or three...

I remember similar problems when flight MH370 disappeared a year or so ago.

rgaffJune 3, 2015 4:36 PM

aww c'mon guys, if it weren't so obvious to the cops, the video wouldn't have been nearly as entertaining... especially since the captain walked past it not noticing and his underlings had to call him back (at which point they had to salute) lol... there are so many obvious ways to improve it, like, I dunno putting the cameras down at the end of the block, for example... and yes, it's supposedly using face recognition, not just uniform recognition...

@ Clive Robinson

Don't worry, you'll be seeing those personalized vacation ads all over the internet for weeks now :P This is the part that I find most frustrating, not just the immediate ad on the result page. You expect it there. You don't expect it weeks later to still be going and on many different supposedly unrelated sites. This can actually be a very disruptive problem if you were, for example, searching for a secret gift or surprise for a significant other... Or embarrassing if anyone has ever clicked on a slightly racy ad and now you get nothing but porn ads everywhere... (you may think that's funny, and yeah, it is, but really, we should have better control over such things is my point)

milkshakenJune 3, 2015 4:38 PM

I think what is really does is a clever viral marketing: everybody is now talking about it, because the puzzled look in cops faces is priceless.

BoppingAroundJune 3, 2015 4:41 PM

That's targeted *unmarketing* rather.

Another interesting link from the article: https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2014/06/02/say-hello-to-your-vending-machine-it-might-be-watching-you/

I do really hope these will be listening too, for I want that 'fuck off' to be heard. At least.

Clive, good catch. Restricted technology seems more plausible to me — I doubt the gov would let such an opportunity to slip away. They might even 'market' such prohibition as worrying about the privacy of the commons.

There has been quite a number of privacy-related events in Russia recently. A backdoor in Yotaphone (some sort of a Russian smartphone); MTS's (a Russian carrier) plans to sell subscribers' data to banks, allegedly to facilitate credit score measurement.

SchneieronSecurityFanJune 4, 2015 5:58 AM

Suppose an in-store shopper wants to compare items inside the store against items on other stores' web sites by using his smart phone from within the store. If the shopper uses the store's Wi-Fi, couldn't the store hinder the access speed to a competitor's web site? If the shopper has installed the store's app on his smartphone, couldn't the store customize the search experience based upon the shopper's biographical data, GPS coordinates within the store, and the store's own analysis of the search terms?

A mobile app developer in my city stated that she uses her smart phone's data network provider whenever she shops because of the possibility of the above.

AlanJune 4, 2015 9:06 AM

Hi Bruce

Alan Sugar famous for Amstrad Computers and "The Apprentice" TV Show in the UK, Mr Sugar also owns a company called Amscreen that uses human recognition software called OptimEyes. We are like "Rats in a Maze", here is a video describing the software. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5KGK1HQFg0

Regards

Björn PerssonJune 4, 2015 4:20 PM

Once cities are full of digital billboards with cameras, governments around the world will make laws to grant themselves access to the video feeds – and suddenly Big Brother has the streets full of telescreens without even having paid for them.

William LeeJune 7, 2015 12:50 AM

I thought I read somewhere this was a hoax - a viral marketing campaign. Can't seem to find the link now though. I must admit I'm skeptical that anyone would even try this, too easy to get caught and way too much effort for too little return.

Coyne TibbetsJune 7, 2015 11:29 PM

I'm surprised no one raised another likely use for this type of technology: automated assassination.

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