What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but what happens in Rio de Janeiro during Carnival will be monitored via facial recognition software. The Brazilian city’s press office published a release today noting that the city, in conjunction with Colonel Rogério Figueredo de Lacerda, secretary of state for the Military Police Department, will be adding the questionable technology to the annual festivities.
The city’s famed Copacabana neighborhood, usually the heart of Carnival fun and filled with Samba dancers, will be outfitted with traffic and security cameras installed on poles and buildings, “to identify people who have arrest warrants issued in their names or check license plates of vehicles to see if they have been stolen.”
The system will use software from phone company Oi, which will collect and transmit images directly to the Integrated Command and Control Center in downtown Rio, “where operators will cross-reference the information sent with the Police Department’s databases for cases of face recognition, and with the Traffic Department for license plates.”
While the tourism board touts the facial recognition software as a means of bolstering tourism by making Rio safer, the timing is raising eyebrows. This comes months after so-called “Trump of the Tropics” Jair Bolsonaro came to power, bringing with him an anti-LGBT agenda, a promise to try to end same-sex marriage, and a newly appointed ultraconservative human rights minister, Damares Alves, who has said there will be “no more ideological indoctrination of children and teenagers in Brazil.”
Setting up facial recognition software in the heart of Carnival could certainly be seen as a first step to squelching the traditionally inclusive celebration.