New York Times analyst Alice Fung tweeted a photo recently which shows a rather large monitor with the words “Please Pay Your Fare” and the warning “RECORDING IN PROGRESS” on a video feed of subway commuters. Fund asked if the MTA was sharing this recording with anyone, prompting concerns that it was doing real-time facial recognition of commuters. The MTA has now clarified that this isn’t the case.
The monitor mentioned Wisenet’s name, which is a company that makes no secret of the fact that it offers facial recognition solutions. The video feed even traced around the subjects’ faces further playing into the idea that it was real-time facial recognition.
“There is no capability to recognize or identify individuals and absolutely no plan” to do so using NYC subway cameras, confirmed MTA spokesperson Maxwell Young. The MTA has said that these are not facial recognition cameras, this is only a track that’s meant to scare fare dodgers into paying their due.
Young categorically denied a facial recognition component to these cameras and said that there’s no facial recognition software being run based on this data. “These cameras are purely for the purpose of deterring fare evasion — if you see yourself on a monitor, you’re less likely to evade the fare,” he said.
— Alice Fung (@aliceafung) April 18, 2019