28 May 2019José Roberto de Almeida and Rodrigo Cantarino

Data security: In the Brazilian carnival, who are you?

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is known as one of the largest events in the world, and the second largest in the country, surpassed only by the New Year’s Eve festival in Copacabana beach. During Carnival, the streets of Rio de Janeiro are taken over by masses of people partying together to the sound of lively Brazilian music.

With this much attention, it is only natural that the state government enhances security measures, to keep the city a safe place for residents and visitors alike. What people were not counting on for 2019’s Carnival was that, in some places, they were being monitored by cameras for the sake of public security.

The newly elected state governor, Wilson Witzel, decided to add facial recognition and vehicle licence plate reading software in 28 cameras that already existed in Copacabana for the purpose of traffic control during Carnival.

This was to be a “trial” to review how these cameras would operate to enhance public security. The cameras would “read” faces and licence plates, and the data would then be cross-referenced to search for wanted people and stolen vehicles, in a joint effort from the police force and the state vehicle authority. A positive match in the data would trigger a warning that would be transmitted to police in real time.

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