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JR East scraps plan to identify past offenders with facial recognition camera

43 Comments
By Shannon, SoraNews24

In light of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, major train company JR East upped their security game by installing facial recognition cameras at stations in an attempt to curb possible terrorism attacks. Using their database of images collected from JR East station surveillance cameras, the facial recognition cameras identify three groups of people: the first being persons that were previously imprisoned for committing serious crimes against JR East or JR East passengers, the second being named criminal suspects, and the third being suspicious persons.

But not anymore. On Sept 21, JR East announced that they have unregistered anyone in the first group due to a “lack of societal consent”. There isn’t a definitive set of rules in Japan regarding what’s acceptable and what’s not when it comes to facial recognition, which seems to be what’s making the JR Group err on the side of caution until clearer guidelines are set.

But why just one group? Even though people in the first group have committed crimes in the stations or on the trains, they are considered people that have already finished carrying out their sentences. Continuing to single them out could count as invasive surveillance since when a registered person was recognized on the camera’s system, station attendants would be required to confirm their identity, then possibly inform officers and even search them if deemed necessary.

Japanese netizens reacted on social media with a mixture of surprise and disagreement.

“I think preventing major crimes from happening again is more important.”

“Shouldn’t we be surveilling them??”

“Okay, stop this for about a week, then please start it again.”

“If there’s a legal problem that could possibly affect our safety and lifestyle, I feel like we should amend it. Even if they’ve finished their sentence, they could still recommit crimes.”

According to the latest news, JR East does plan to reinstate this system once there are clearer guidelines about facial recognition. Whatever the case, it’s clear that train stations are feeling the pressure to step up their security game in light of recent train-related attacks.

Sources: Yomiuri Shimbun via Yahoo! Japan News via Otaku.com, Bengoshi.com News via Yahoo! Japan News, Twitter

Read more stories fromn SoraNews24.

-- Japan Railways wants to build a team of robots to help travelers, catch criminals in its stations

-- Japanese railway company to replace the title of “train conductor” with just “crew”

-- Woman jailed after entering Japanese train cabin with key bought at online auction

© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

43 Comments
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Only communist states need Big Brother watching the people day and night in public places.

13 ( +23 / -10 )

I like how the way the article ends with the “citizens” wanting it.

Invented comments if you ask me.

Also this is not JR East, its the government and police force who would want that isn’t it?

Final question, if the biggest problem is chikan and perverts, why would the system not be used for them too?

Past violent criminals who committed crimes with the JR area and anyone whos ever been arrested is completely different.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

The facial recognition cameras identify three groups, … the third being suspicious persons.

What makes a personal “suspicious” (according to JR), and how many people would be given this label every single day?

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Using their database of images collected from JR East station surveillance cameras, the facial recognition cameras identify three groups of people: the first being persons that were previously imprisoned for committing serious crimes against JR East or JR East passengers, the second being named criminal suspects, and the third being suspicious persons.

Happy for them to use facial recognition for the first example above. That's no different to stores and staff kicking people out/refusing service to those who had previously caused problems to their own business. It happens all the time, and is why there are bouncers/security on the front doors of businesses.

I have a major issue with 'named crimminal suspects' and 'suspicious people'. Where are they getting the biometric data for this? What constitutes suspicious?

13 ( +13 / -0 )

@Wolfpack: Only communist states need Big Brother watching the people day and night in public places.

Actually, being watched in public spaces is 100% fine by me. Being watched covertly, or in places with an expectation of privacy is absolutely not ok.

In public spaces, where people can see you anyway, I have no problem with a computer watching me as well, Especially if someone attacks me, or even worse, makes a claim that I attacked them. I welcome the digital evidence.

-4 ( +8 / -12 )

In light of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, major train company JR East upped their security game by installing facial recognition cameras at stations in an attempt to curb possible terrorism attacks

Shades of Minority Report..Given that we foreigners all look pretty much alike, I would not relish the thought of trying to extricate myself from a case of mistaken identity once I was in the clutches of the J-authorities.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

when a registered person was recognized on the camera’s system, station attendants would be required to confirm their identity, then possibly inform officers and even search them if deemed necessary.

Too many hits probably and its

0 ( +1 / -1 )

becoming too difficult for them to cope with the limited manpower

4 ( +4 / -0 )

They can track you by your Suica and Paso card, when they are registered to you

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I have no problem with violent convicted criminals being identified and banned from using trains. No one wants them on and around trains.

Only communist states need Big Brother watching the people day and night in public places.

You do realize how many CCTV cameras are in use in Japan, right? They help identify and catch criminals every day. You have nothing to fear if you follow the rules and dont commit crimes.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Once you buy a Pasmo or Suica card ,you are being tracked,they do not need your face ,when they got your credit info ,in Houston ,you get a tag,it track you when get on Toll road,Id your car to the tag Google Google Sam Houston Toll Road Tag

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Once you buy a Pasmo or Suica card ,you are being tracked,they do not need your face ,when they got your credit info 

You do realize that you dont need Pasmo or Suica card to catch a train?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

So JR will manage a database of suspicious persons using JR, of persons involved in crime within the premises or against JR , and a list of named criminals. The latest will be given by the police.

JR seems to be totally controlling that but it will be a full cooperation with the police.

I am totally against as the issue will turn into closely watching everyone.

But I can imagine the JR staff sleeping behind his screen in the security room.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Whatever the case, it’s clear that train stations are feeling the pressure to step up their security game in light of recent train-related attacks

Which recent attacks ? Never heard of except the usual chikan.

Train stations are very safe and updating the security will not deter any crime at all. The supposed criminals will do it in any cases . The cameras have not changed anything. Big Brother will be watching you. This will be the only outcome

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Mobile phones, credit cards, prepaid cards, all track the movement of the user. Wrong to track people released from prisons who have served their sentences. Back in the day, ex-prisoners were tattooed on their foreheads.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

There is no doubt that security cameras are PREVENTING more crimes than actually identifying criminal, just placing a camera anywhere makes trouble makers think twice. Over and over again i hear and read about criminals getting caught with the assistance Cameras, so I say turn them back on.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Who could possibly be against this? Terrorists, anti social idiots who attack staff and serial bottom pinchers.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Which recent attacks ? Never heard of except the usual chikan.

You might not have been following Japanese news in recent years. Some horrible, violent and deadly attacks.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

and the third being suspicious persons.

This is WAY too vague.

If this stupid system were to work the way police work, it would likely be set to start beeping whenever a foreign looking face walked past it.

Not comfortable at all with this idea, just saying.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

credit cards, prepaid cards, all track the movement of the user.

Not if you have a piece of aluminum foil in your wallet ......

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Who could possibly be against this? Terrorists, anti social idiots who attack staff and serial bottom pinchers.

And those of us who don't trust government or especially corporations not to abuse the technology. Cops are lazy by nature. Too many people go to jail on incorrect testimony by so-called experts and by sloppy evidence that juries don't challenge adequately, accepting the cops version of events even when it is far fetched or not supported by the available evidence. Now this facial (farcial) recognition tech will be come further "proof" used by some "expert" to convict somebody who is probably innocent. The experience of the Innocence Project in the US ought to teach everyone that much "expert" testimony is baseless. Do not hand the police and prosecutors one more tool for their "experts" to abuse.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

YrralToday  08:45 am JST

Once you buy a Pasmo or Suica card ,you are being tracked,they do not need your face ,when they got your credit info..........

My Suica card doesn't know who I am and it was bought with cash and gets topped up with cash. They may be able to track the movement of the card but it is not identified to me unless matched with video data at the time of me using it.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

The phrase "suspicious persons" is intentionally vague as to provide an excuse for blanket surveillance of everyone and anyone. Even by eliminating(allegedly) the first listed group, they are still included with the whole. Yes, it's 1984-style paniopticon surveillance.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The real topic got diluted in the comments! The key word is 'facial recognition' and for what purpose / on what ground it will be used! Just that someone served a sentence or looks suspicious doesn't mean he will make trouble. On the contrary average looking salary-man may snap or do petty crime. In recent news we heard about police officer doing hidden photos...

Surveillance should stay but labeling groups should be not used!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Probably a huge waste of money anyways if you consider that a likely terrorist will probably wear a mask or disguise, even in non-pandemic times. But what would worry me the most, is that they would keep all this data on-line and it could be hacked into.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

China 101

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Watch the old movie 1984 That is the future, but I will be long gone by then, but grandchildren may see it

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I wouldn't have any problem with them tracking people who had been convicted of committing a crime JR ON A TRAIN or station in the past.

But the random tracking of anyone "suspicious" is just asking for abuse.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Why I have a feeling that the third group is a polite way of saying “gaijin”

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Facial tracking of "a group" requires of course to look at everybody's face in order to compare each face to a database, so in a nutshell, tracking everybody, you can't know in advance which faces would need to be tracked and which one would not before you actually do it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

recognition cameras identify three groups of people: the first being persons that were previously imprisoned for committing serious crimes against JR East or JR East passengers, the second being named criminal suspects, and the third being suspicious persons, which are often vulgar and offensive to say the least.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Now that we know there's a recognition system in place, do we feel more secure when travelling JR or less

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Even when they first came up with this nonsense, I wondered how long it would last. And how they're gonna run the whole thing. Where they're gonna get the data from. Whether they're going to have some data of their own, i.e. a limited number of situations where a person is later proven to be an offender, or whether they're going to draw from elsewhere. And if from elsewhere, from where. And in that case, I was wondering, what's the problem with making a sex offender database.

From that statement and overall what I found, it seems more like they wanted to detect all people's faces and compare it to some database with some delay. For which I think JR East and by extension JR just doesn't have the infrastructure and computing power. And a lot of people didn't even want to be involved in this project.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It seems that the people who are against this are those who have a reason to be worried. If you don’t do anything wrong, then there is no need to be against this. It’s a great idea to keep the community safe.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

As long as security cameras are installed in a public area where everybody can see you anyway, I have no problem with surveillance at all. Security cameras make it often possible to reconstruct a crime like a hit and run accident or burglary and to find out how exactly and when it happened and if pictures taken were in good quality it was often possible for police investigators to identify the criminal.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The best if they could track everyone everywhere. Especially the dudes from the government. Also the data should be accessible by everyone.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Probably a huge waste of money anyways if you consider that a likely terrorist will probably wear a mask or disguise, even in non-pandemic times.

China and Singapore both claim their facial recognition equipment can identify individuals wearing a face mask. I have my doubts but the danger is "expert testimony" from company hacks and law enforcement that the convicts someone who is innocent.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Good. It was disgraceful that they thought it acceptable.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Bad decision.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What creeps me out more than the facial (farcial) recognition software is where did they get the data mapping faces to names? Social media images? Or ????? Not a happy thought is it. And how can they prove it is correct?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It would be very useful to quickly identify suspicious gaijin, as they are usually guilty of something. It would save time to just arrest them first and get them off the streets before they can victimize any more innocent Japanese, and only then when they are safely behind bars investigate to determine what laws, if any, they have violated.

Better safe than sorry!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Desert TortoiseToday  06:40 am JST

What creeps me out more than the facial (farcial) recognition software is where did they get the data mapping faces to names? Social media images? Or ????? Not a happy thought is it. And how can they prove it is correct?

Driving licence, Zairyu card, both have your photo. Passport if you're Japanese.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Better safe than sorry!

Sarcasm off? ( I hope )

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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