• UK Police Scanned the Faces of 100,000 People at Music Festival

    August 25, 2015

    Tags: ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Post-Constitution America


    Hey, Big Brother? It’s me. Can we talk about facial recognition please?

    The Download Festival

    See, the police used facial recognition technology to scan the faces of thousands of attendees at the Download music festival in the UK without their knowledge.

    The excuse the Leicestershire Police used was that they were trying to catch “organized criminals” who specifically target music festivals to “steal mobile phones,” according to a report in Police Oracle. The collected footage is compared against a database of custody images to identify the criminals, in this case, an alleged music festival phone-robbing crime ring that nobody seemed to have heard about prior to it becoming the justification for searching an entire crowd who did nothing but show up to hear some tunes.

    The festival saw 91 arrests out of 100,000 people. Most were for alcohol-related mishaps, none for phone theft.

    Facial Recognition Technology

    Facial recognition technology is big business. The tech is evolving rapidly. Basically a computer digitizes an image of someone’s face in a way that makes fooling the system difficult, stuff like measuring the distance between eyes, the angle of one’s nose, ear lobe shape, the sort of stuff that can’t be thrown off by face paint, a hat, sunglasses or the like. And the software can be configured to zero in on someone who is wearing face paint, a hat and sunglasses, so nice try, you in the back row. You’re now a person of interest.

    Facial recognition is increasingly being used by law enforcement. In the U.S., it’s used by the FBI and local police departments. The largest scale use of the tech in America is at major sporting events like the Super Bowl, supposedly because terrorists are flocking there, even though they never have.

    Reports suggest airports scan passengers, hotels scan lobbies, stores scan aisles, casinos scan their gambling floors and many police street cameras are tied into the systems. Another publicly-known example occurred after the Boston Marathon bombing of April 2013. The subsequent Boston Calling music fest was subject to heavy use facial recognition surveillance, one guesses in case there were more Tsarnaev brothers out there.

    Nobody wants the World Series blown up by terrorists. And guess what — neither before nor after 9/11 has any terror group carried out a mass casualty attack (if you want to count the goofball Tsarnaev brothers in Boston as a terror group, and the [unfortunate] deaths of the three spectators there was “mass,” be my guest.) And of course neither facial recognition tech nor anything else seems to deter our regularly-scheduled mass shootings (been to the movies lately?)

    Why It Matters

    The concern over widespread and indiscriminate use of mass surveillance technology, such as facial recognition, is that it is widespread and indiscriminate, a form of search (your location) and seizure (your image and location data) that, in the U.S. at least, thumbs its nose at the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unwarranted actions. So it is simply wrong on its, well, face.

    Someone inevitably will respond to all this with a hearty “Well, I’ve got nothing to hide.”

    Good for you. You are quite a person if you indeed have nothing at all to hide. And maybe you really don’t, at least under today’s laws.

    But information collected never goes away. Your “nothing to hide” argument has built into it your full and true faith that every government, every company, every hacker that can, will or might gain access to that data will never do anything with it against your self-interest. You are asserting that no new technologies will emerge to manipulate that data in a way you blearily can’t conceive of now.

    That, my friend, is a lot of faith in Big Brother.

    Related Articles:

    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

  • Recent Comments

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever, that within 5 years, every square inch of Murica will be under some kind facial recognition surveillance, be it surface mount video cams/sensors, drones, bugs, robots, and corporate networks, using RFID chips in everything, the emerging Internet of Everything, and even the use of EVERY CITIZEN…


      But the real terror is still waiting in the wings… autonomous Artificial Intelligence analyst supercomputers/robots..who target humans for PRE-CRIME. Which, in essence, would allow artificial intelligence to ..well..destroy human kind forever.


      Orwell’s vision was massively naive. I’m just glad I won’t be alive to see the lead up to it. On the other hand, at least there are 300 million+ and growing, gun owners. They might be our only salvation. One thing is for sure. At some point, TPTB WILL try outlawing gun ownership and gun confiscation, which might be a good thing as it will absolutely trigger a bloody civil war. Let’s just hope it happens BEFORE AI is in control.

      08/25/15 9:54 AM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      Speaking of the Internet of Things..


      ROTFIGSL… this is why I’ll NEVER buy into this crap. One day, a hacker could possibly shut down every refrigerator in murika, notwithstanding sending a complete Internet connected house/utilities or your car into killing you . Hahahahahaha!

      Sci/Fi horror movies were as naive as Orwell. I can see the first headline now…

      “House murders entire family by starving them to death while locking them within the house.”

      Fuck the Internet of Things. On the other hand, the DFCOTP deserves it, notwithstanding a Clown for a President.

      sheeezus.. at least he provides a laugh a minute.

      08/25/15 10:26 AM | Comment Link

    • Diretweets said...


      That within 5 years , every square inch under some kind of supervision Murica face recognition, http://situsforex.com/ whether surface mounting video cameras / sensors

      08/25/15 7:55 PM | Comment Link

    • UK Police Scanned the Faces of 100,000 People at Music Festival - Freedom's Floodgates said...


      […] Reprinted with permission from We Meant Well. […]

      08/26/15 10:26 AM | Comment Link

    • Annie said...


      As a Bostonian, reading that the bombing was shrugged off in your article as “only 3 deaths” is absolutely terrible to see. If it wasn’t for the emergency responders that had seen actual warfare and knew how to stop bleeding at the legs and arms of 10s of people, many more would have died rather than having legs and arms amputated. To me, that’s like saying the Iraq war is no big deal because only a 1,000 people died. Your article was strong until you belittled an American terrorist attack.

      08/27/15 7:35 AM | Comment Link

    Leave A Comment

    Mail (will not be published) (required)