Tuesday, 26 June 2012

London's Facewatch service goes mobile - everyone gets creeped out

In case you were concerned that the citizenry of the world’s most surveilled region had just a tad too much privacy on their hands, you can now rest easy. In some kind of dystopian 1984 meets Nazi Germany twist, British authorities have released an IOS version of their Facewatch service.
... and so is that guy two tables over.

If you aren’t familiar with Facewatch, you’ll be glad to know it’s just as creepy as the name makes it sound. Facewatch was launched in 2010 and made waves last year after the London riots as an online database that displayed the faces of rioters caught on newsreels or one of the city’s four million surveillance cameras. The brilliance, of course, is that the police could rely on Londoners to report each other to the authorities instead of doing any actual police work.

The logistics were described in a Metropolitan Police Department press release.
The popularity of the app lies in its simplicity. As well as being available on all computers at www.facewatchid.co.uk the Facewatch App works across all smartphone and tablet computer platforms with internet connection and is free to download from the Apple App Store, Android Google Play and Blackberry App World.
A member of the public just has to enter their local postcode into their smart phone or iPad and then click or touch through a selection of unidentified CCTV images of suspects that the police would like to talk to. [Facewatch]
So what’s to stop a Facewatch user from going straight up Stephen Segal on an unsuspecting criminal (or someone who looks kind of like a criminal)? Well, nothing. Facewatch for IOS does, however, include a feature where users can input the name of the suspect and their current address, which is then sent “securely" and confidentially to authorities.

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