Moscow fired Face PayIt is a facial recognition payment system implemented at more than 240 Mostro stations, and is the largest use of facial recognition technology in the world, officials claim.
The service relies on stored images to validate metro payments, an apparent privacy concern given past uses of facial recognition technology by law enforcement in the Russian capital.
Face Pay requires metro passengers to upload a photo and link their bank and metro cards to the Mocetro mobile app. With everything loaded, all you have to do is look at the camera placed above the turnstiles to get to the next train in time.
Moscow authorities expect 10 to 15 percent of riders to use Face Pay regularly in the next two to three years, hoping that lost time and paying for trips will translate into shorter queues and close contact during the ongoing pandemic.
Relatively convenient biometric recognition could add to payment systems a concept currently being rolled out in the US through Amazon One, the e-commerce giant’s palm-recognition technology.
And as notes The Guardian newspaper, the Department of Information Technology in Moscow claims that the photos collected through official channels will not be handed over to the police. Instead it is securely encrypted in the Moscow GIS ETSHD unified data storage and processing center system.
Face recognition payment system is a step to control the population
But this has not convinced Russian privacy advocates. This is a dangerous new step in Russia’s quest to control its population. “We need full transparency about how it works in practice,” said human rights activist Stanislav Shakirov. The Moscow Metro is a government institution and all data can end up in the hands of the security services.
Shakirov, founder of digital rights group Roskomsvoboda, has good cause for concern. Moscow’s application of facial recognition across its vast network of more than 10,000 CCTV cameras is frightening.
In addition to the possibility of misuse of data by local law enforcement forces in Moscow. It is clear that the system can be hijacked for $ 200 by hackers.
And this is the real danger of applying facial recognition across more and more everyday life in the city. The system itself is a weak target for the worst abuses. The government could also have an easier time tracking citizens’ movements.