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i've just seen a face

A city in South Korea will test facial recognition technology to track COVID-19 cases

Bucheon, a South Korean city of about 800,000 people situated on the edge of Seoul, will begin testing in January a system that uses facial recognition technology as a way of tracking those infected with COVID-19, The New York Times reports.

The technology uses data from over 10,000 surveillance cameras to hopefully "trace the recent movements of people who tested positive for the coronavirus, their interactions with other people, and whether masks were worn," writes the Times.

Globally, other cities have begun experimenting with similar facial recognition systems to alleviate the burdens of contact tracing; for example, Moscow has used the technology to monitor whether citizens under quarantine have tried to leave their houses. India, Poland, Japan, China, and even a few U.S. states have also "rolled out or at least experimented with" facial recognition to track COVID patients, Reuters reports per the Columbia University School of Law.

Of course, such tactics raise privacy concerns, notes the Times. For these systems to work, "authorities must generally have a large database of citizens' photos for the technology to draw on." The technology has also struggled to properly identify faces blocked by masks.

According to the Bucheon proposal, however, "a person's consent must be obtained before the system may access his or her information," and "the data would be provided only to quarantine authorities," clarifies the Times.

Though 81 percent of the population in South Korea is vaccinated, the country has seen a "steady increase in daily new cases over the past few months, going from the 1,000s in October to a record of 7,174 last Wednesday." Read more at The New York Times.