The Ministry of Public Telecommunications has clarified that facial recognition and tracking technologies of the Safe City Component will only be deployed at official ports of entry. This clarification comes amidst concerns that the technology might infringe on people’s right to privacy.
The Ministry yesterday noted that the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Eugene F. Correia International Airport and Molesen Creek Ferry Crossing, are the only ports that will have these systems in place.
“We now reiterate that the new system is designed solely for everyone’s safety and security, and is not intended to infringe on an individual’s right to privacy.” The ministry said in a statement.
Further clarification was made on the distinction of the Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras being installed in public places, and the specialised hardware that will be installed at the various ports.
“The specialized cameras at the official ports are very different from the CCTV cameras erected in public spaces. These cameras are the only ones capable of comparing images generated from automatic facial recognition software against databases administered by the Guyana Police Force, and by recognized international security agencies that Guyana has bilateral relationships with. While the cameras installed on the streets are of extremely high quality, they are not equipped for automatic facial recognition.”
The ministry said that the Government of Guyana has no plans to install specialized facial recognition cameras in city streets “anytime in the foreseeable future.”
Addressing concerns of information breaches, the Ministry said that the programme operates on an independent government-owned fibre optic network managed by the National Data Management Authority (NDMA), an agency of the Ministry of Public Telecommunications.
“It has no points of entry or gateways for any third party – individuals or companies. This network is physically independent with all trunking and cabling standing alone. It is physically isolated from the eGovernment platform which provides connectivity to Government institutions, agencies, schools, health and other public facilities. Access to the CCTV network of cameras is only possible by authorized security personnel who are stringently vetted before they are assigned,”