The Rise of Covid-19 Temperature Scanners That Can Also Capture and Store Your Face
Just by walking by it and briefly glancing at the screen, I likely gave the Temp Tablet all it needed to recognize me
In late February, I went to an office building in San Ramon, California. I used to work there, before the pandemic, and needed to pick up some mail. Due to a standing Covid-19 public health order in the Bay Area, the building’s management had implemented mandatory mask and temperature checks at the entrance, so I expected to be scanned and evaluated.
I didn’t expect that the scan would be performed by a machine—or that consenting to a scan might enter me into a facial recognition database, which could later be used to monitor my health status and track my every movement.
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As of late 2020, the building in question had stationed a staff member at the door with a handheld infrared thermometer and a roll of “Check Passed” stickers. After a friendly hello, she’d ensure that each visitor had a properly fitting mask and would issue a free one if they didn’t. She would then take a visitor’s temperature with a simple noncontact thermometer before handing them a sticker and sending them on their way.
On this visit, I was instead greeted by a PAR-P2TEMPTABLET temperature-scanning tablet (or Temp Tablet), made by surveillance company InVidTech. The tablet was on a pedestal near the door. A box of masks and stickers had been placed next to it. A sign instructed me to approach the tablet and perform my own temperature check.
Why would a Covid-19 temperature scanning tablet need high-grade facial recognition capabilities?
The tablet looked like an iPad with a glowing red sensor placed just above the screen. It displayed the rough outline of a human face and a live camera feed of the hallway. A message on the tablet instructed me to step up to it and center…