Bucheon COVID-19 facial recognition tracking

Occurred: December 2021

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Reports say that South Korean city Bucheon is shortly to begin using facial recognition and other AI technologies to track COVID-19. Around 10,000 cameras will be used to track a confirmed person’s movements, instances of close contact, and whether they are wearing a mask. 

The programme has raised concerns amongst digital rights and privacy experts, who worry that sensitive personal data is being shared with the unnamed private company building the datasets and developing the algorithm without first obtaining permission from the people appearing in the CCTV footage. There are also fears that the system may be used for undeclared purposes.

Meantime, South Korea's justice and immigration authorities are under fire for sharing the facial images and personal details of approximately 170 million travellers without their consent.

Operator: City of Bucheon
Developer: Unknown
Country: S Korea
Sector: Govt - heath
Purpose: Track COVID-19 infected individuals
Technology: Facial recognition; Gait recognition; Mask recognition
Issue: Privacy; Scope creep/normalisation; Dual/multi-use; Surveillance
Transparency: Governance; Privacy