Moscow has built up a system of 1,78,000 surveillance cameras. There are cameras on the subway on the bus and on the street almost everywhere you go you're being watched. Thousands of Moscow's security cameras are already connected to facial recognition software under a program called 'Safe City'.

Police claimed, this technology has helped to arrest more than three hundred people. Now as part of the response to COVID-19, authority is trying to bring every surveillance camera into that network. This Orwellian step is supposed to catch people breaking quarantine. A move that's been praised by state television. At the end of January, before Moscow had any confirmed cases of coronavirus. The city purchased NtechLab's latest facial recognition software.

The company says, "their software can detect your identity, even when 40 % or more of your face is covered. We decided to give it a try, and the system has recognized the identity despite the mask put on a hat."

Artyom Kukharenko is a Co-founder of NtechLab, answered few questions sticking to the rules of social distancing in an interview.

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Once coronavirus is over, will facial recognition continue to be used for the mass surveillance of Muscovites?

It will look for criminals.

Why it should be used for mass surveillance?

When the system is more transparent to the majority of city residents, the fear will go away and people will trust the system more.</ Katrin Nenasheva, Performance Artist and Activist says, "this about the total surveillance that is part of our daily lives."

Before Moscow went into lockdown last month, Katrin Nenasheva led a protest that uses simple face paint to try and trick cameras on the facial recognition network. The police quickly shut down their action.

They told, "our face paint was the evidence against us. By implementing facial recognition without asking the people, the government is refusing to consult with them. The system knows all about us, but we do not know much about it.

Why Does The Facial Recognition System Scare You?

That your rights, even to minimal privacy have vanished. You do not even have the right to your own face.

Critics of facial recognition software already have evidence that would be seen by cameras in Moscow that can fall into the wrong hands.

Russia's interior ministry is already trying to beef up the safe city system by teaching artificial intelligence to identify people by their voice, eye color, and the way that they walk.

The lockdowns will eventually lift, but Russia's widespread use of facial recognition technology is here to stay.

The technology has already been deployed against Putin's critics. Most notably last July, during demonstrations for free elections.

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