Belarus — New Technology Allows for “Unmasking” Police

  • The new technology is based on the AI.
  • The technology basically rips off masks to reveal the face for an identification.
  • The opposition has been reporting excessive force use against the protesters.

On Thursday, there was an announcement pertaining to new technology designed in Belarus. Belarusian experts presented an algorithm that allows users to identify law enforcement officers, while they are wearing masks. Since the Belarusian presidential election, the protests have not stopped.

Alexander Lukashenko is a Belarusian politician serving as President of Belarus since the office was created on 20 July 1994. Western opponents of Lukashenko have described Belarus as ‘Europe’s last dictatorship.’

The election was flawed and there is no truth in the results presented. It is impossible to believe that President Alexander Lukashenko got close to 80% of the votes. However, it is unlikely Svetlana Tichanovskaya won either. Belarus should have held new elections and applied democratic principles.

It should be noted that Lukashenko held a private inauguration event this week. The news only reported on the ceremony after its completion. Russia is one of the few nations that recognized Lukashenko as the legitimately elected president of Belarus.

Nevertheless, there are reports that law enforcement in Belarus used excessive force. Since security forces go out in masks to disperse and use force on the civilians, a Belarusian opposition sympathizer supposedly created a computer algorithm that uses artificial intelligence.

The system analyzes the exposed areas of faces in the photo, compares them with publicly available photos on the Internet, and allows you to “unmask” law enforcement officers. Furthermore, the technology is very convenient, and can put law enforcement at risk.

Upon reading further about the announcement, it made me realize the technology is not from Belarus. Yes, it is plausible the technology was given to the Belarusian opposition and their IT specialists to enhance. At the same time, this proprietary technology base more than likely comes from Germany. Surely, Belarus did not violate patent infringement and copyright laws.

The 2020 Belarusian protests, nicknamed the Slipper Revolution and the Anti-Cockroach Revolution, are a series of ongoing political demonstrations against the regime of Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko. The demonstrations, part of the Belarusian democracy movement, started occurring in the lead-up to and during the 2020 Belarusian presidential election, in which Lukashenko sought a sixth term in office.

The technology was demonstrated by Andrey Maskimov on his social media channel. The technology basically “rips off” the masks of those who hide their faces, as was shown in a video on the author’s channel.

Andrey Maksimov called on the security forces to stop the outrage and clearly showed how the new system works and that it will not allow violators of the law to remain unrecognized.

Nevertheless, it does sound a lot like the German technology that was recently unveiled. The specialists in photogrammetry and image analysis from the German Center for Aviation and Cosmonautics have developed a trainable algorithm that can count the number of people in a photo or video image.

Even though the German technology differs for what it can achieve, the ideas do sound similar. Belarus is not known for its advanced IT developments. Therefore, the platform to build on had to come from the West. It is plausible that EU nations provided the support needed to create such system and use it as leverage against the Belarusian law enforcement.

Overall, it can be a useful tool, if used responsibly. Otherwise, it could create a negative effect and additional use of force.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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