‘Orwellian shiver’: Shops in Thailand start using scanners that check if customers are wearing masks before allowing them to enter
New scanning systems that automatically refuse entry to people who have a fever or aren’t wearing masks are seemingly being rolled out by businesses in Thailand in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Travel writer Niall Harbison spotted the devices at stores in Thailand, saying they could scan his temperature and ascertain whether he was wearing a face mask in two seconds. “Doors don’t open if not,” he tweeted. “Three cases in 100+ days here. Removes awkward mask arguments for staff as well.”
My local shops in Thailand. In 2 seconds scans my temperature and to see if wearing mask. Doors don’t open if not. 3 cases in 100+ days here. Removes awkward mask arguments for staff as well. pic.twitter.com/4Eac5fMsLR
— Niall Harbison (@NiallHarbison) October 4, 2020
Such technology could quickly become pervasive. Similar devices are being sold online for offices, which can use them to restrict entry by employees and visitors. Twitter users said that some schools, nursing homes and workplaces in other countries, including the UK, are using similar systems to control access.
Some schools have them here in Scotland pic.twitter.com/iurh5Q80wr
— Gav Gordon (@GavGordonToGo) October 4, 2020
Several observers pointed out the practical shortcomings of face-scanning devices, such as the unreliability of temperature checks, the need to allow for legitimate mask exemptions, and the ability of people to take off their masks or wear them improperly after being granted entry. Another cited the potential for “smashed screens and barrier barging,” while others said scanning systems made by Chinese video-surveillance firm Hikivision have been banned in the US, Indian and Japan, among other countries, because of data security risks.
however temperature is one of the least reliable indicators for covid-19 transmission, while at the same time linked to false positives
— rdwrt (@rdwrt) October 4, 2020
So people with valid mask exemption reasons like disabilities, anxiety, severe distress etc can’t shop anymore?
— David Foxley (@MrDavidFoxley) October 5, 2020
Bad actors would wear the mask to get in.
— 😷 Dr.Alan T – Film & Literary Arts 📚🎞️🇮🇪 🇪🇺 (@kinowords) October 4, 2020
I can just imagine the smashed screens and barrier barging if that was here in the UK.
— Andrew Martin (@AndrewMartinUK) October 4, 2020
You shouldn’t scan your face on these HIKIvision products. They have serious data issues. And are banned in US, India, Japan and other countries for that reason
— Carl (@bigbucksblanch) October 5, 2020
But the bigger debate centered on the sort of society that’s being created with such technology.
“The very fact that this doesn’t seem to send an Orwellian shiver down your spine speaks volumes about the lack of cranial matter between your ears,” one commenter tweeted.Another said: “We don’t need to destroy our way of life to spend the rest of our miserable existences in a fearful, masked dystopia over a virus that’s easily survivable by almost everyone except those likely to die of flu.”
The very fact that this doesn’t seem to send an Orwellian shiver down your spine speaks volumes about the lack of any cranial matter between your ears.
— The Buster (@LeBuster) October 4, 2020
Good. We don’t need to destroy our way of life to spend the rest of our miserable existences in a fearful masked dystopia over a virus that’s easily survivable by almost everyone except those likely to die of flu.
— Merrose (@meridianroseml) October 5, 2020
Others praised the device, such as one commenter who was anxious to see the “clever” technology put to use in the UK. A Twitter user said: “Respecting the rules works,” while another tweeted: “Every business in Ireland dealing with the public should have them.”
This is such a clever idea. Would love to see these in the UK
— LouiseTilbrook (@LouiseTilbrook1) October 4, 2020
Respecting the rules works!
— Grace van Thillo🌍 (@gvthillo) October 5, 2020
These are available on Hunt Office. Every business in Ireland dealing with the public should have them.
8” Facial Recognition Thermometer Display with Wall Mount FR8A-W – Hunt Office Ireland https://t.co/Mrrg3EorxA
— Stephen Mc Lean (@Ste_Mc_Lean) October 4, 2020
But others pointed out the difficulties of adopting such systems in Western countries. One commenter said Americans would say an entry scanner violated their constitutional rights “because they only selfishly think of themselves and don’t care about anyone else.”
I wish the US would do something like that as the standard, but everyone is so quick to scream MUh CONsTiTutIonaL RiGhts because they only selfishly think of themselves, and don’t care about anyone else. America is an individualistic nightmare.
— rads rikkelsen (@damncryptid) October 5, 2020
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