Malaysian state uses facial recognition to catch criminals


The next time you visit Penang Island, Malaysia, look at a CCTV camera and smile.

The state has 767 CCTV cameras on Penang Island alone and now many of them are equipped with facial recognition and artificial intelligence technology developed by IBM.

While some might think it is a privacy breach, Penang City Council has assured citizens that it is only used to detect the faces of criminals and to reduce street crime. .

IMAGE: Chow Kon Yeow Facebook page

“This technology, capable of detecting the faces of criminals or people wanted by the police, will be operated from the CCTV control room of the MBPP and the Penang police headquarters.

“The surveillance via CCTV is an initiative of the State government of Penang to reduce crime, especially street crime, in order to maintain the safety and well-being of the population,” said the chief minister of Penang Chow Kon Yeow in a statement to Bernama.

Chow added: “We hope to increase the number of CCTV installed with this facial recognition technology to 3000 units in stages, for better crime prevention, and extend it to areas under the Seberang Perai City Council (MPSP). . “

IMAGE: Chow kon Yeow Facebook page

State Police Chief A. Thaiveegan said local police would be able to upload an image of a criminal or wanted person. The system will then immediately notify the relevant authorities if it is able to track the matter.

Facial recognition technology in China. IMAGE: Austin County News

Penang is inspired by China, which has installed CCTV cameras with facial recognition since 2005.

Although facial recognition is not 100% reliable, such as detecting a jaywalker that turned out to be a bus, Chinese authorities have managed to identify 2,000 suspects, arrest over 800 people and resolve 200 case since its deployment.

China is heavily invested in facial recognition. In 2018, they installed facial recognition toilet paper dispensers that dispense 3 feet of toilet paper after scanning your face.

The aim was to reduce the use of toilet paper and deter citizens from stealing toilet paper from public toilets.


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