IBM / Genetec Surveillance System Investigated Over Philippines Human Rights Abuses

By Charles Rollet, Published Mar 22, 2019, 09:29am EDT

A lengthy investigation into an IBM video surveillance project in the Philippines, raising concerns IBM helped local police conduct a bloody campaign of extrajudicial killings, has been published by The Intercept, a high-profile news publication behind several major scoops on the NSA's surveillance programs.

The investigation centers on IBM directly selling and setting up an Intelligent Operations Center (IOC) for authorities in Davao City, the third-largest city in the Philippines, in 2012. The center is sparking controversy because, at the time, Davao was the site of “hundreds” of extrajudicial killings under the administration of current Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter Sara.

On top of IBM's involvement, IPVM found that Davao also used Genetec's VMS, and we have examined Genetec's involvement plus Genetec's response.

ibm genetec philipines human rights abuses

This shows increasing scrutiny of video surveillance from media and activists over its potential for abetting serious human rights abuses, particularly thanks to increasingly sophisticated analytics.

In this post, we examine:

  • Background of Publisher
  • Davao/IBM Surveillance Operations Background
  • Surveillance Operations Details
  • Genetec Involvement
  • Allegations Made In the Article
  • Analytics Scrutiny
  • IBM/Genetec Response
  • Why IPVM is skeptical of IBM's claimed capabilities
  • A Wake-Up Call for Video Surveillance?

Executive *******

** ****, *** **** and ******** * '***** city' ******** ** * Philippines ****, ********* ***** own ***** ********* *** integrating **** *******'* ******** video ************ ********. *** sold **** ** * city, **** ***** **** before ****, *** ***** rights ****** ********** **** 'death ******'.

Publisher **********

*** *,***+ **** ************* was ********* ***** *********, ** ****** ************* news ************ ******* ** 2014 ************** ******** ********* ** “********, adversarial **********”. *** ********* is ******** ****** ** eBay ******* *** ***************** ********** ** ****-***** *** hiring ** *********** *********, *** ********** ******** ************ ********** *** ********* obtained ** ****** *******.

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Davao **** **********

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IOC *******

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Camera *******

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Genetec ***********

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**** **** *****, ***** is *** ******* **** IBM ********:

*** ***** ** ******* example **** ***:

*******, ***** ** ** example ** **** ***** Genetec's ******** ***** ********** software:

*** *** *** ***** deployed ***** ************ ******** was *** ******* ** do *** *********** ***** management, **** ***** **** integrated **** ***'* ***** analytics ******** / ******.

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IBM "***** ************" ********

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Allegations **** ** *** *******

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Analytics ***********

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[*** ***] ******** ***** analytics ********** **** ************* tagged ******* ******** ** camera, **** **** *** people, ** ***** ******** attributes. *** **** ******** the *******’ ****, *****, color, **********, *** *********

* **** *** ************ on *** ***** ******* also ******** * **** known ** “**** *******,” which ***** *** ****** of ***** ** **** time *** ****** **** for*********** ********

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************, *** ** **** raises *********** ******** *****, as ******** ** *** Intercept:

********* ** *** **** Human ****** ***** ******, Davao’s ***** ****** **** known ** **** ** part ** ****** ** targets ** ***** **********.

IBM ********

** ******** ** *** Intercept’s *************, *** *********** gave * “** *******”:

*** ******** ** ******* to ******* ***** *** human ****** ****** ** Davao ****. *** ************ Edward ******* ******* ***** that *** ******* “** longer ******** ********** ** the *********** ********** ****** in *****, *** *** not **** ** ***** 2012,” ****** ** ******** to ******* ******* *** serviced *** ********** ***** that *****, *** ***’* public ******* ******* *** program ** ******* ***** that ****.

Genetec ********

******* **** **** ****:

** **** *** **** able ** **** *** record ** **** * project ** *** ******, nor **** ****** ** the **** **** **** about **** ******* ***********.

** ** ******** **** due ** *** *******'* 7+ **** *** *** relatively *** *******, ******* or ******** ************ **** not ******* *********. ***** that *** *** *** contract *** *** ***/** a ******* **-******, ** is **** ****** **** IBM ********* ***** ******** from ******* *** **-**** them ** *** *********** government.

**** *******, **** ***** about ******** **** ***** prevent ****** ** ***** of ***** ********, ******* said:

**** **** ***** ** all ********** **** *** conduct ***** ******** ** an *******, ******, *** law-abiding ******.

******* ****** **** *** users *** **** ** the *** ** ***** local ************. ************, ******* said ** *** **** to

****** **** ** *** use *** ******** ** a "****** **** ***** violate *** ****** ** any ***** *******"

******* ** *********** *** "Partner's ********" ******* ** their *********, ***** ****** that ******** **** *** use ******** "*** *** illegal **********, ** ** a ****** **** ***** violate *** ********** **** or *** ****** ** any ***** *****", ********* below:

Skepticism ** ***

**** ** ********* ** the ************* ******* ****** by *** ***, ********** since *** *** ********* for **** **** * decade ** **** **** work ********, ********. ** the *****, *** ********* its **** ********* ***** to ****** ****** ** the ******* ** ***** analytics (*.*., *** *** 2010 **** -***: ***** * ***** Player ** ***** ************). *******, *** *******'* analytics (**** ****** *** providers ** **** ****) were *** ****** ******* with ******* ******* ** problems (*.*. ******* "******" *** ** Public ************ ********).

*** *** **** * years, *** *** ****** disappeared **** ********* ** video ************. **** ** the **** **** ****, have ** **** ******** pick ** **** *** in **** *****. *** is *** ********* ** ISC **** ****, ** a **** ** * 10 *****, ********* ***** low ************ *** ***** of ********** **** ***** later (****** *** **** **** Booth *****.)

Conclusion: ****-** **** *** ***** ************

************, *** *********’* ************* is * ****-** **** for ***** ************.

***** ************ *** ************* been ******* ** ** something ****** ********* *** used *** ******* ******** investigations. *** **** **** analytics ***** **** *** increased ************ *********, ***** are **** *** **** reports ** ** ***** used ** **** ******* human ****** ****** - and **** ** *** limited ** **** ***** (e.g.,********* **** ******* ********** Forced ****** *********** ******* Across *** *******) ** *** ***********. For *******, *** ********* has ************* ** ****************** *** *** ********* a ****** *** *** NYPD ***** ****** ****** to ****** ******* ** skin ****.

**** ** **** * long-term ****** ** ***** lives/privacy *** * ****** to *** ******* ********** of *** ***** ************ industry. ** **, *********, something *********** *** ************* should *** ***** ********* to.

Comments (26)

would this IBM product be considered a PSIM?

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I wouldn't call this a PSIM but that depends on how one defines PSIM.

It's definitely an attempt at building a command and control solution, from IBM's own announcement:

A single operational platform which will enable coordination between Davao City agencies involved in responding to public safety incidences

PSIM, at least to me, is more focused on physical security alone (the PS in PSIM), and in particular, integrating various physical security subsystems. What IBM claims (or at least used to claim) to be doing is broader.

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IMHO,

I'm Not sure how this is some kind of wake up call. With video analytics getting better every day why wouldn't I be able to search for any video characteristic I want, be it skin tone, vehicle color, or gang sign. Maybe I want to search for a ginger dwarf because that's what the description of the perp. was

Unless the end user is under some kind of embargo/sanction, who gets to say whether or not their 'politics' allows a manufacturer to sell to them. What the end user ultimately does with the tools given is not on the manufacturer. The exact same tools can be used to solve an Amber Alert or find the Boston Bomber.

The same argument can be made for lots of things like fast food and guns. 

VMSs dont kill people...you know the rest.

 

 

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The same argument can be made for lots of things like fast food and guns.

VMSs dont kill people...you know the rest.

Guns are regulated, even in the US, even without considering the much more significant regulations in Europe and elsewhere.

With video analytics getting better every day why wouldn't I be able to search for any video characteristic I want, be it skin tone, vehicle color, or gang sign.

You will but with greater power and capabilities will become greater opportunities to abuse them, ergo why governments regulate lots of things that have can harm people.

What the end user ultimately does with the tools given is not on the manufacturer

That sensible, except when the manufacturer is also the contractor and sells and sets up the system directly like IBM did here and like Dahua and Hikvision do in China.

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Guns are regulated, even in the US, even without considering the much more significant regulations in Europe and elsewhere.

Yes they are, but we dont blame Remington for gun violence....well some try.

 

That sensible, except when the manufacturer is also the contractor and sells and sets up the system directly like IBM did here and like Dahua and Hikvision do in China.

Assuming IBM doesn't have a vigilante genocide business solution, what is being done here is a perversion of the same tools that everyone else has. If the MFR sets up the system directly that's somehow morally different than selling it to a contractor who does the same?

 

You will but with greater power and capabilities will become greater opportunities to abuse them, ergo why governments regulate lots of things that have can harm people.

In this case, the entity doing the harm is the government itself. Sadly, they still managed to do it under a democratic republic with legislative, judicial and executive branches. However it is a unitary state, not a federated one. Thanks Wikipedia

 

 

...good conversation!

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is there an accepted “woke” set of criteria to apply to determine if a manufacturer is in an ethically dubious position in these human rights related matters?  as far as I can tell it’s something like:

its wrong if a company is actively trying to sell its products/services to an entity/regime that it knows/suspects may use them in the suppression of human rights.

the only problem there is: would Ford supplying standard police vehicles to the same regime be wrong?  if so, what about Goodyear supplying just the tires?

is it just wrong for any company to do any business with such an entity?

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I personally don't like all these social justice warrior exposes. Its not a wake up call,its just someone looking for a tree to climb.

in an ideal world,we would all be selling to Denmark... The PH is a democracy with many problems, but still a democracy ( so is Mexico, so is India, so is Brazil) it is not ruled by a dictatorial junta or a one party state. The persons whose human rights were infringed were drug dealers, not an oppressed ethnic minority. Selling to the authorities, even if they are shite authorities is  not a crime in my book.

 The ones that need a wake call are  The editors of the intercept, especially since they rely on speculation and innuendo, since as you wrote there is no proof that the vms was used for extrajudicial killings.

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"The persons whose human rights were infringed were drug dealers, not an oppressed ethnic minority. Selling to the authorities, even if they are shite authorities is not a crime in my book."

so you are ok with the use of technology in the violation of human rights (literally, death squads that were sanctioned by Rodrigo Duterte).- as long as your view of those that are having their rights violated 'deserve it'?

This is one of the weakest arguments I've ever seen displayed on IPVM.

Human rights violations should be judged on the violation of actual human rights - and not judged based on the occupation of those whose rights are violated.

To argue otherwise simply underscores your biased viewpoint against those that you deem unworthy of the same human rights you purport to defend. 

 

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To sell equipment to the municipal authorities of a democratic country is not flawed. 

A flaw would be to bribe your way into a tender, there is a difference between the two.

To cry over the rights of the criminals and disregard how they harm innocent phillippinoes with drug dealing, violence, women and children trafficking is hypocritical.

To publish an article that accuses IBM and genetec of aiding human rights abuse, and at the same time admitting there is no evidence of this and that their technology at the time was probably not advanced enough to do so makes this one of weakest articles I saw on ipvm.

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To publish an article that accuses IBM and genetec of aiding human rights abuse, and at the same time admitting there is no evidence of this and that their technology at the time was probably not advanced enough to do so makes this one of weakest articles I saw on ipvm.

what’s weak is your eyesight :)

where exactly in this article do you see IPVM “accuse IBM and genetec of aiding human rights abuse”?

First, IPVM reported on the Intercept’s claims, which in itself were newsworthy, considering it is a mainstream outlet commenting on our industry.  

Then, IPVM sussed out the Genetec connection and elicited a response, which IPVM seemingly found credible.

Finally, IPVM also cast doubt on some of the accusations, and tried to raise awareness of this growing issue on our industry, in general.

 

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"which in itself were newsworthy"

I've always touted IPVM as being the Consumer Reports of video surveillance technology. And I have to admit being totally wrong. Articles like this reveal IPVM to be the CNN of video surveillance - do whatever it takes, at any cost, to capture eyeballs and page hits.

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IPVM... [will] do whatever it takes, at any cost, to capture eyeballs and page hits.

yes, and in particular, the cost of preparing this multi-paragraph, link-laden report with embedded full-color graphics is probably mind boggling.  like I don’t even want to know.

 

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To sell equipment to the municipal authorities of a democratic country is not flawed.

So is selling equipment to the People's Republic of China flawed?

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IBM has some nasty history of providing technology to the Nazis during WWII......

Sometimes it's hard to find the obvious link or the golden proof but when you examine the government actions and the provider of technologies used by the government.... you find the link.....

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"The persons whose human rights were infringed were drug dealers". Was this proven in court, I don't think so. This is a bad road to go down, human rights are human rights, if you start making exceptions when do you stop?

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As integrators, we have to be aware of potential technology abuses. To maintain an ethical standard in our industry, we must challenge such questionable deployments of powerful technology. We are just a few news stories away from the public equating “video analytics” with “tool for racist oppression”. Although the truth is much more nuanced, people’s perception is their reality.

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We are just a few news stories away from the public equating “video analytics” with “tool for racist oppression”.

I agree though I believe many industry people will scoff at this. 

We should recognize that it is a benefit to the industry that the public has long, and justifiably, held video surveillance as a strong net positive. And we should be pro-active about encouraging reasonable ethical usage standards and even regulation to mitigate the broad negative consequences of misuse.

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IBM also provided the Nazis during WWII with punching cards technologies to assist them with managing the records of the people who were murdered

Seems like they can't keep their hands clean for too long....

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I hope I am not the only one that wonders if this article aligns with the core mission of IPVM.

Yes, it is tragic if video surveillance technology is used to carry out human rights abuses in countries governed by dictatorships. But I fail to see how this type article is helpful to anyone wanting to keep up to date on video surveillance TECHNOLOGY.

I certainly didn't buy an IPVM subscription to support socio-political investigations. There are a vast number of websites providing their own lists of socially irresponsible companies.

Leave political reporting to the main stream media.

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"But I fail to see how this type article is helpful to anyone wanting to keep up to date on video surveillance TECHNOLOGY."

your assumption includes the perception that everyone who has an IPVM subscription does so for only the reasons that you do.

This assumption is incorrect.

A subscription to IPVM does not require you to click on links you aren't interested in.

 

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Leave political reporting to the main stream media.

We report on 'politics' as it relates to the video surveillance industry. For example, we never reported on the Mueller Report, because there was no connection to video surveillance. We do report on this and, e.g., Xinjiang to the extent that they do relate to video surveillance.

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I have never seen IPVM affiliate with any political party; only draw attention to human rights offenses. I support having these types of "political" posts as a part of my subscription.

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I find it hypocritical that so many people have such strong feelings about this subject yet will express those feelings only if they can do so anonymously.

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"I find it hypocritical that so many people have such strong feelings about this subject yet will express those feelings only if they can do so anonymously."

this is one of the most tired and ill-informed viewpoints from those who only post on IPVM using their own names.
 
 
Definition of hypocritical: characterized by behavior that contradicts what one claims to believe or feel

 

How does posting Undisclosed contradict the claims of Undisclosed posters?

Further, subscribers who post Undisclosed are not anonymous - IPVM members know who they are - and we all have definitive reasons for posting Undisclosed - none of which contradict our stated personal viewpoints. 

 

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Can anyone name a for-profit company that refused US government work on the premise of there being ethical concerns?

Can anyone name a for-profit Chinese company that refused Chinese government work on the premise of there being ethical concerns?

If this has ever happened, perhaps we can acknowledge those companies, if they exist.

Google dropped an AI DoD contract because employees were resigning due to ethical concerns, not because Google management had ethical concerns. Maybe IPVM can interview them to see how inside influence can help belay these ethical concerns?

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Update: While IBM paid for a booth at the ISC West show, they did not show as the image below during the show demonstrates:

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