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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Police to match G20 pictures against banking database

A little known fact: every time you use an ATM machine, the bank takes your mug and stores your picture on your account. It's a security measure, to nail people who steal bankcards. So, if you report your card stolen, and the banks sees it's been used at an ATM, the security people at the bank can type a few keys and look at the last image captured.

The Canadian Banking Association shares these images between the banks, as different banks own different ATM machines. And since their cards can be used at competing banks, cooperation is necessary.

As it turns out, the Association also have sophisticated facial recognition software that they can employ for identifying your face and matching it to your account information. I assume they use this for heuristically detecting potential unauthorized use.

But, well, here's the thing: the Toronto Police apparently photographed about 14,000 people over the G20 weekend. And the Banking Association is going to happily match all those faces against their database for the police. The vast majority of which, are obviously not criminals, and will now have their likeness and identity happily squared away in a police database.

I don't know if I'm in any of those pictures. But I intend to find out by firing off a series of freedom of information requests. And if I am able to determine my bank, BMO, has handed over my information and likeness to the police, well, I am going to sue you. Just so there will be no misunderstanding.

That is all.

Update: Commenter Greg McMullen suggests I have misinterpreted what I've been told and read. Rather, the banks are only supplying the software, but not their internal image database. That's a big relief.

Posted by Mike Brock on July 15, 2010 in G20 | Permalink

Comments

Pretty sure you made a typo in the second paragraph, "can't" instead of "can" (assuming you were talking about bank cards).

On what grounds are you going to sue? You knew there was a camera when you entered the bank machine cubicle, so you implicitly gave your permission to the bank to have your picture taken. Just like you do at the mall, the airport, at subway station, on the street ( http://www.moncton.ca/Visitors/Web_Cameras/Main_Street_East.htm )

Posted by: Altavistagoogle | 2010-07-15 9:45:40 AM


Altavistagoogle,

My objection is not the bank taking my picture. My objection is the the bank matching 14,000 faces the police give them, and then going "Oh, yeah... this one is Mike Brock".

That's a violation of my privacy. I did not implicitly authorize the bank to give out my information by allowing them to take my picture. That takes it to a whole other level. And it would be that I am suing for.

I expect my bank to protect my privacy, including from the police, unless they have a warrant in hand.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-07-15 9:50:14 AM


Mike--

I think (and hope) you have the facts a bit wrong here. It's my understanding that the CBA is simply providing the software, and that the police will be using it to scan through their photos of protests, their arrest records from the G20 weekend, and a Montreal police database of "Black Bloc sympathizers".

From the G&M article:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/toronto/identifying-g20-suspects-using-banks-software-a-legal-risk-police-warned/article1639899/

----SNIP----
A CBA technician will work alongside the investigative team to run images of unidentified suspects through a police database of photographs of people arrested during the summit, as well as a larger database of known criminals. In addition, Montreal police have supplied a database of Black Bloc sympathizers.
----SNIP----

There are a bunch of civil liberties issues here - the McCarthyist list of "sympathizers" is perhaps the biggest - but I don't think the bank sharing their database is one of them.

Posted by: Greg McMullen | 2010-07-15 9:59:25 AM


First of all, Mike, you have no Constitutional safeguard against being photographed of which I am aware, certainly not on someone else's private property (in this case the bank's. Your permission is not necessary. Secondly, the owner of that image can then share it with whomever he pleases; apart from publishing it without your consent, the sky is pretty much the limit. Police recover footage from private security cameras all the time. You're swimming upstream against a Niagara of precedent.

Of course, you have the right to pursue this through the courts as far as you see fit, if a judge decides it has merit (and that's a very large "if"). However, you'll have to provide it with a better legal wrapper than you have thus far. "I expect" is not going to cut the mustard.

One last point: Why should the bank believe you're actually prepared to sue? You do not seem to have filed an official complaint with the police over your treatment at G20, which would have been free. So how likely is it, they will ask themselves, that you will actually initiate litigation against them, since that will cost you money?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-07-15 10:28:32 AM


You do not seem to have filed an official complaint with the police over your treatment at G20, which would have been free.

I did. And my objection is not to the photographing. It's to the matching of photographs to my account information.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-07-15 10:33:28 AM


When ATM photo technology came into being, the police were aware it was there if they ever needed it. It's no biggie for police to get a search warrant to search a banks data base.. they have to show you the warrant to the banks. They don;t have to show it to you

And didn;t several "banks" get their windows smashed in those Toronto Yuppy riots? I sort of recall they did.. and right across from a police station..

Wouldn't the banks co operating with the police to find the riot Zombies actually be ensuring your privacy and everyone else's was secure from crazy people breaking in with hammers through the front window..?

Come on Mike..maybe check the fine print on
" terms of service " you signed when you first signed up for a bank account..

just sayin"

Posted by: 419 | 2010-07-15 10:52:50 AM


I did. And my objection is not to the photographing. It's to the matching of photographs to my account information.

That's not illegal either. Now if the bank shared your actual account information with the police without a warrant--account numbers, balances, and so forth--that would very likely be a criminal violation, never mind a tort. But they share only the picture and your name--and they could match up your name to your likeness anyway from any picture ID you have on file--I don't see the issue.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-07-15 11:00:02 AM


Shane Matthews,

Disclosing your identity without warrant is a breach of privacy. Why is my identity not part of my private information? It most certainly is.

ISPs in Canada and the US have been sued successfully for releasing an account holder's name in association with an IP address, without a warrant. Why would this be any different in the eyes of a court?

I don't have an account at my bank so they can use their databases for police dragnets. if I thought this was the case, I wouldn't have a bank account. At least, not one located in this country.

I have no problem with the bank taking photographs for anti-fraud purposes. I have a problem with the banks allowing that resource to be used by anyone else but them, for any other purpose than the bank and it's customers security.

Privacy is privacy is privacy.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-07-15 11:09:04 AM


I so agree with you Mike,if i was a bank manager and the police came to me wanting any information on customers , i would say get a warrant , i dont want to risk being sued.

Posted by: don b | 2010-07-15 11:23:31 AM


The source of our feelings of oppression are easily found ... in the mirror.

Posted by: set you free | 2010-07-15 11:36:50 AM


Disclosing your identity without warrant is a breach of privacy. Why is my identity not part of my private information? It most certainly is.

So if a cop comes up to me without a warrant and shows me your photograph, and I tell him who you are, I can be sued? I think not.

ISPs in Canada and the US have been sued successfully for releasing an account holder's name in association with an IP address, without a warrant.

What, then, about this decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2007? In a nutshell, it says that your IP address is no more unique an identifier than your phone number, which means that while the government cannot get the contents of your communications without a warrant, it can get a list of the phone numbers you call, the IP addresses you visit, and the people you e-mail—all without a warrant. And government powers in Canada are generally more expansive than in the States.

I don't have an account at my bank so they can use their databases for police dragnets. if I thought this was the case, I wouldn't have a bank account. At least, not one located in this country.

And on the day that your personal expectations, thoughts, or rationales become factors in whether something is legal or not, that will be a valid point. Since you are not required by law to patronize any bank, nor to use any ATM, you retain the right of refusal, just as you can choose to not board an aircraft in lieu of submitting to a warrantless search.

I have no problem with the bank taking photographs for anti-fraud purposes. I have a problem with the banks allowing that resource to be used by anyone else but them, for any other purpose than the bank and it's customers security. Privacy is privacy is privacy.

But unless the judge also has a problem with it, Mike, it's yet another violation of your principles by an uncaring society that you'll just have to endure. Any illusions of privacy you may entertain outside your own home are just that—illusory. Courts may occasionally decide otherwise but it's not something I'd bet the farm on.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-07-15 12:20:09 PM


Shane,

Are you saying that any dealings I have with any other party can be simply construed as a matter of public information? I think not.

Why is it that you always approve of people's privacy and due process rights being abridged in the name of upholding the law?

You're completely fine with police perusing people's private information, and you don't stop to worry about the fact that such information could be abused. You trust the police implicitly. You're just one of those "if you've got nothing to hide, let the authorities look" people, eh?

Anyways, I decided to check what my account holder agreement with BMO had to say about such matters, to see if I've "signed away my rights" so to speak.

"Personal information may be released to legal or regulatory authorities in cases of suspected money laundering, insider trading, manipulative or deceptive trading, or other criminal activity, for the detection and prevention of fraud, or when required to satisfy the legal or regulatory requirements of governments, regulatory authorities or other self-regulatory organizations. Other reasons for the release of personal information include when we are legally required to do so (e.g. by court order) or to protect our assets (e.g. collection of overdue accounts). If we release personal information for any of these reasons, we keep a record of what, when, why and to whom such information was released."

I see nothing that say: "or if police want to search our hundreds of thousand of customers for potential matches with photographs they have of people on the street".

They seem to suggest they will only do it when legally required to disclose. Police dragnets form a legal reason under the law. Rather, we require things called "warrants" for this. It's a pretty well-known concept, Shane.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-07-15 12:54:47 PM


Mike its because of Shanes obsession with the war on drugs, as far as hes concerned anybody using drugs have no rights .Personally i dont give a shit if my neighbor is smoking weed, but not for him.
He believes that money was from drugs, so for Shane anything the police do is ok.

Posted by: don b | 2010-07-15 3:54:47 PM


Are you saying that any dealings I have with any other party can be simply construed as a matter of public information? I think not.

The dealings are not what is being shared, as I quite specifically stated. Only your picture and your name.

Why is it that you always approve of people's privacy and due process rights being abridged in the name of upholding the law?

Why is it you always insist you have these rights when the law says you don't?

You're completely fine with police perusing people's private information, and you don't stop to worry about the fact that such information could be abused. You trust the police implicitly. You're just one of those "if you've got nothing to hide, let the authorities look" people, eh?

Resorting to ad hominem, Mike? And to argue that something can be abused is to argue nothing at all; anything can theoretically be abused.

I see nothing that say: "or if police want to search our hundreds of thousand of customers for potential matches with photographs they have of people on the street".

Read the terms again, Mike; they quite explicitly state or other [suspected] criminal activity. That's the catch-all. Look deep enough in most examples of legalese and you'll find it.

They seem to suggest they will only do it when legally required to disclose.

No, they don't, which is why they used the words "Other reasons for." The language is perfectly plain.

Rather, we require things called "warrants" for this. It's a pretty well-known concept, Shane.

Police only require warrants if the holder of the information is not willing to tender it freely. In this case, the holder is, and if I read those terms of service correctly, you agreed to it when you put your name on the dotted line, forming a legal and binding contract—also a well-known concept.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-07-16 6:47:38 AM


Don, it's because of people like you that drugs are still illegal, not because of people like me. Drugs need better spokesmen. Literacy would be a big plus, as would be the ability to focus; we are not on the "Too Slow for Comfort" thread.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-07-16 6:51:13 AM


close tag

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-07-16 6:53:14 AM


close tag

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-07-16 6:53:43 AM


I DEMAND TO KNOW the name of the MISERABLE MOLECULE OF MILDEW who CODED THIS SERVER.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-07-16 6:54:30 AM


Twasnt me Shane

Posted by: don b | 2010-07-16 10:37:05 AM


Really, Don?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-07-16 11:08:34 AM



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