During the height of the pandemic, Knightscope posted a blog titled By The Numbers. It reveals everything that is wrong with unchecked corporate surveillance masquerading as public safety.

“Knightscope is the only company in the world (that we know of) commercially operating fully autonomous vehicles 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in all types of environmental conditions across an entire country – with no human intervention. The Knightscope team now has deployment contracts across five (5) US time zones.”

The latest figures from Knightscope claim that their 360-degree Automatic License Plate Recognition cameras have recorded 10.5 million plates.

“With 360-degree Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) included with K5 ASRs, and K1 stationary machines equipped with static ALPR, Knightscope’s robot fleet has detected more than 10.5 million license plates. This critical data set is continuously scanned for Be on the Lookout (BOLO) individuals or licenses plates belonging to Persons of Interest for respective client sites.”

Knightscope’s Security Operation’s Center (KSOC) also tracks how long each vehicle has been parked in a particular area with “Parking Meter.” The KSOC basically acts as a private police department that tracks millions of vehicles and people.

“Knightscope K5s are also tracking how long each vehicle has been parked in a particular area with Parking Meter. Knightscope clients are then able to receive alerts via email, text, or in our cloud-based user interface – the Knightscope Security Operations Center (KSOC) – for vehicles exceeding predefined duration of time thresholds by location or even parking level for multi-level garages. This is vital for limited term parking enforcement or for gaining real time visibility for caches of stolen or even abandoned vehicles.”

Knightscope, like license plate reader companies and Ring, are being used by law enforcement to collect vast amounts of private data on Americans without a warrant.

Knightscope’s robots are also being used to detect billions of Bluetooth cellphone signals and millions of Americans.

“Spanning more than five years of commercial operations Knightscope’s fleet of ASRs have detected over 1.4 billion device signals. With powerful People Detection analytics, Knightscope’s ASRs have had over 240 million detections of people. These People Detections can be escalated as alerts based on predefined client thresholds for time of day and location.”

Knightscope has also claimed to have scanned 80 million people using thermal imaging, because, you know; ‘a human may have fallen to the ground.’

“Knightscope’s Robots that are deployed with Thermal Imaging cameras have processed over 80 million thermal images. Anomalies arising out of these Thermal detections can also be escalated via KSOC alerts, email or text message or voice based on predefined temperature threshold based on time of day or location. These can be alerts representing an escalating temperature from a fire hazard or the body temperature of a human who has fallen to the ground in a poorly lit environment.”

Claiming Knightscope’s robots only use thermal imaging to scan for humans who might have fallen to the ground and are not scanning them for weapons indiscriminately, is ludicrous.

Claiming that public surveillance will “reduce racial bias”“create community connections” or that “customers will be impressed with corporate facial recognition” are just a few examples of the absurd PR campaigns that law enforcement and corporations use to justify mass surveillance.

Knightscope also claims to have sent out 1,100 BOLO’s to their customers, identified 49 people to Mac address matches and found 40 blacklisted license plates.

A recent NBC News article reveals that Knightscope robots generate huge volumes of data on innocent Americans.

“Typically, a casino, residential facility, bank or, in one case, a police department, rents a robot for an average fee of around $70,000 to $80,000 per year. Part of that cost involves Knightscope storing all of the data that robots like Westy gather in a year. This huge volume of data is the equivalent of more than the combined storage of 175 iPhones, each with the maximum storage capacity of 512 gigabytes.”

Think about that for a second. Police, parking lots, malls, corporate campuses, hospitals, casinos, airports, sports stadiums etc., are using Knightscope robots to collect huge swaths of personal data on millions of Americans without a warrant. (For more information click here.)

Curiously, one thing has been missing from Knightscope’s blog: facial recognition, something that the NBC News article mentioned only once.

A 2019 press release announced that the Pechanga Resort Casino was using Knightscope facial recognition robots to ID customers.

“We began working with Knightscope and their security robots over a year ago. Pechanga knew the technology would be another tool for the resort-casino’s 350-person public safety team in maintaining wellbeing for our guests and team members.”

And a January 2021 blog post revealed that Knightscope can install facial recognition in their K1, K3 and K5 Autonomous Security Robots.

“If Facial Recognition is elected to be activated as a part of the deployment, Knightscope’s third-party facial recognition software provider can then be included for any K1 and as a part of the overall security team’s KSOC account. Current Employee, Former Employee or Person of Interest (POI) images can be uploaded into the KSOC with a reason for this individual being flagged. The robots and the software will then scan for that threatening individual indefinitely.”

So despite reassurances from places like the Pima Community College and the Valley Fair Mall, Knightscope robots clearly have the capability to use facial recognition if they are not already doing so.

The dangers autonomous robots pose to everyone’s privacy is only going to get worse unless we put a stop to it.

This article was originally published at MassPrivateI.