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MOSCOW – The Russian capital is home to a network of 178,000 surveillance cameras. Thousands of these cameras are already connected to facial recognition software under a program called “Safe City.” Police claim the technology has helped arrest more than 300 people.

Now, as part of the response to COVID-19, authorities are trying to bring every surveillance camera into the facial recognition network. This Orwelian step is supposedly to catch people breaking quarantine.

At the end of January, before Moscow had any confirmed cases of coronavirus, the city purchased the latest version of NTechLab’s facial recognition software.

They claim their software can identify a face even when 40% or more of it is covered. We tried it, and even in a balaclava it still recognized a face.

When asked, Co-founder Artyom Kukharenko failed to make the connection between his powerful software and mass surveillance.“Why should it be used for mass surveillance I don’t understand?”

“When the system becomes more transparent to the majority of city residents, this fear will go away” he continued.