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Middle East Nations Fund Fancy Police Surveillance Technology

A brain wave reader that detects lies. Miniaturized cameras inside vape pens and disposable coffee cups. Massive video cameras that zoom in more than a kilometer to capture faces and license plates. a police conference in Dubai, new technologies for the security forces of the future were up for sale. Far from the eyes of the public, the event provided a rare look at what tools are now available to law enforcement around the world: better and harder-to-detect surveillance, facial recognition software that automatically tracks individuals across cities and computers to break into phones, the New York Times reports. Advances in artificial intelligence, drones and facial recognition have created a global police surveillance business. Israeli hacking software, U.S. investigation tools and Chinese computer vision algorithms can all be bought and mixed together.. Fueled by a surge of spending from Middle Eastern countries such as the United Arab Emirates — the conference’s host and an aggressive adopter of next-generation security technologies — the event pointed to how tools of mass surveillance once believed to be widespread only in China are proliferating. The rising use of the technologies signals an era of policing based as much on software, data and code as on officers and weaponry, raising questions about the effects on privacy and how political power is wielded.


“A lot of surveillance could ostensibly be benign or used to improve a city,” said Daragh Murray of Queen Mary University in London who has studied police use of technology. “But the flip side of the coin is it can give you incredible insight into people’s everyday lives. That can have an unintended chilling effect or be a tool for actual repression.” The gold rush was evident at a convention center in downtown Dubai, where uniformed police representatives from around the world browsed drones that could be launched and powered up remotely. Chinese camera makers showed software to identify when crowds gather. American companies like Dell and Cisco had booths offering police services. Cellebrite, an Israeli maker of systems to break into mobile phones, exhibited inside a “government zone” blocked off from the rest of the conference.

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