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Interpol to Implement Controversial Voice Recognition System

Interpol to Implement Controversial Voice Recognition System

The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) is evaluating software that can identify unknown speakers by matching their voices to recordings of criminals stored within a massive database of audio files. 

The complex system, known as “SIIP,” seeks to solve some of the problems lawmakers currently face, such as:

  • Identifying people who use false identities in phone or online conversations 
  • Identifying unknown individuals taking part in a conversation with a known speaker 
  • Improving prospects for using voice recognition in court cases

SIIP combines an advanced Speaker-Identification (SID) engine with a Global Info-Sharing Mechanism (GISM) to process legally intercepted audio captured from phone calls, crime scenes, social media, and other sources.

“While the system can process any ‘lawfully intercepted’ sound… the samples could come from mobile, landline, or voice-over-Internet-protocol recordings, or from snatches of audio captured from recruitment or propaganda videos posted to social media,” warns IEEE Spectrum.

“The platform can also match voice samples taken from social media platforms including Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Facebook…By combing through multimedia content based on search criteria such as language relevance and geolocation, the system will tag and process this material, and find similar clips in the database. The software’s video processing engine can extract the audio from an online video, split it into mono, and format it into uncompressed 16 kilohertz WAV files.”

SIIP looks at an individual audio file, which may already contain metadata added by the cops who originally obtained it, and adds new information about the speaker such as age, language, or accent. The system is also able to filter out background noise, isolate sounds, enhance voice clarity, and share data with law enforcement agencies throughout the world. 

This information becomes part of a massive database that would be populated by all of Interpol’s 192 member states (all of which would have access to the system). This database is what SIIP uses to identify individual speakers.

“This way, LEAs can gather valuable intelligence to prevent a crime or terrorist activity, solve it if it has already happened, and use voice identification as a pre-forensic tool to create evidence for judges,” reports CORDIS.

SIIP is attractive for use in the courtroom, but there is a big difference between using voice data in court and using voice recognition technology as an investigative tool. As civil rights organizations have been quick to point out, you can’t identify criminals’ voices unless you are listening to everyone’s voices. 

Proponents insist SIIP uses legal means to collect audio files and that futuristic programs like SIIP are necessary in order to combat the new technologies being used by criminal and terror organizations. 

What is most concerning to me about SIIP is that it’s being developed in Europe – not in China, where this sort of thing is already going on. 

Despite widespread concerns over SIIP’s implications for public privacy, Interpol says the system could be ready for implementation in a “very short time.” And based on the accuracy of initial tests, SIIP could soon join the ranks of trusted biometrics like face ID, fingerprint, and DNA.

SIIP is being coordinated by New York- and Israel-based intelligence company Verint, while the audio database will be managed by Interpol at its HQ in France. Also involved in the project are companies based in Vienna, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. Input from law enforcement came from Italy, Interpol, the UK, Germany and Portugal.  

Editor’s note: Technology is getting more and more intrusive in our lives. No one has any restraint, no one even thinks twice.

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