Moscow adds facial recognition payment system to more than 240 metro stations

Moscow launched “Face Pay” on Friday, a facial recognition payment system implemented in more than 240 Mosmetro stations, “the largest use of facial recognition technology in the world,” officials claim (via The Guardian). The service relies on stored photographs to validate metro payments, an obvious privacy concern given the previous uses of facial recognition technology by the Russian capital’s law enforcement.

Face Pay requires metro riders to upload a photo and connect their bank and metro cards to the Mosmetro mobile app. With everything uploaded, all you need to do is look at the camera posted above the turnstiles to make it in time for your next train. Moscow authorities expect 10 to 15 percent of riders to use Face Pay “regularly” in the next two to three years, the hope being less time swiping and paying for rides will translate to shorter lines and waits, and less close contact during the ongoing pandemic.

Face Pay launched at all Moscow Underground stations

Moscow’s head of city transport and road infrastructure Maxim Liksutov with a Face Pay camera.
Photo by TASSTASS via Getty Images

That’s all fine and good, at least conceptually. The relative convenience biometric recognition can add to payment systems is a concept that’s currently being floated in the US through Amazon One, the shipping giant’s palm recognition tech. As The Guardian notes, Moscow’s Department of Information Technology claims photographs collected through official channels won’t be turned over to the police and are instead securely encrypted in the GIS ETSHD system (Moscow’s Unified Data Storage and Processing Center).

That hasn’t convinced Russian privacy advocates, though. “This is a dangerous new step in Russia’s push for control over its population. We need to have full transparency on how this application will work in practice,” Stanislav Shakirov, the founder of digital rights group Roskomsvoboda, told The Guardian. “The Moscow metro is a government institution and all the data can end up in the hands of the security services.”

Shakirov has good reason to be concerned. Moscow’s implementation of facial recognition across its vast network of more than 10,000 CCTV cameras is more than a little scary. Worse than the possibility of abuse by local Moscow law enforcement, the system can apparently be hijacked for as little as $200 by enterprising hackers. That’s the real risk of applying facial recognition across even more of daily life in the city, not just that the government could have an easier time tracking the movements of citizens, but that the system itself is a vulnerable target for even worse abuses.

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Metro Exodus arrives on PS5 and Xbox Series X

Another game from the previous generation is getting an Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 upgrade today, and that game is Metro Exodus from 4A Games and Deep Silver. The companies say that the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 versions of Metro Exodus will offer 4K visuals at 60 frames per second along with ray-traced lighting. It’s offered as a free upgrade to those who own the game on last-gen consoles, but if this is your first foray into Metro Exodus, 4A and Deep Silver are also launching a new Complete Edition on current-gen consoles.

The Metro Exodus Complete Edition is available on Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, and surprisingly even Xbox One, though there’s no indication of a PlayStation 4 version. As the name suggests, the Metro Exodus Complete Edition comes with the base game and its two expansions: Sam’s Story and The Two Colonies.

As for what’s changing in the next-gen version of Metro Exodus, the developers have put together the handy table you see below. It even compares the Xbox Series X and PS5 version features to the PC Enhanced Edition that shipped out last month, and it seems that the only things the current-gen console versions are lacking are advanced ray-traced reflections and support for DLSS 2.0 (which makes sense). 4A Games has also put together a lengthy technical analysis of the Xbox Series X and PS5 versions that goes into great detail about the changes that were made.

So, you can upgrade between versions if you’re jumping generations, but can you transfer saves? Unfortunately, you only can on Xbox, and even then, you’re limited in what you can move over. Xbox players can move chapter saves, including all of the items collected up to that point – between Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S, but not mid-chapter saves. PlayStation players, sadly, can’t move any saves over and will need to start fresh on PlayStation 5.

There are certainly some caveats to consider before you make the jump between platforms, but the next-gen upgrade for Metro Exodus does nonetheless look pretty impressive. It’s available today, so if you’re a Metro fan with either an Xbox Series X or a PS5, be sure to check it out.

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Metro 2033 is free to keep on Steam, but not for long

Every once in a while, Steam will offer a game for free for a limited time – generally over the course of a weekend. One of those weekends is happening now, with Steam offering free copies of Metro 2033. The game is yours to keep if you add it during your library while it’s free, but you don’t have long to do it.

Metro 2033 is free on Steam from now until March 15th at 10 AM PT/1 PM ET. As always, games that are claimed for free through Steam don’t drop trading cards, but that’s really the only caveat you need to consider when claiming Metro 2033. As is usually the case with these free game promotions, Metro 2033 is going free for the weekend to promote a larger Metro franchise sale.

Metro 2033 Redux, Metro Last Light Redux, and Metro Exodus (along with all of its DLC) are on sale throughout the weekend. Both Metro 2033 Redux and Metro Last Light Redux are on sale for $3.99 each, while Metro Exodus – the latest game in the series – is on sale for $13.59. Sam’s Story and The Two Colonels, which are DLC expansions for Metro Exodus, are on sale for $7.19 and $3.19, respectively, or you can pick up both of them in the Metro Exodus Expansion Pass for $9.99.

In this case, it might be better to shell out the $3.99 for Metro 2033 Redux rather than going with the free copy of Metro 2033. Metro 2033 Redux offers a few different gameplay improvements over the original version, as it introduced a number of features and enhancements that first shipped with Metro Last Light. Then again, it’s hard to argue with a free game, so at the very least, you could claim the original Metro 2033 and take it for a spin to figure out if dropping the $4 on Metro 2033 Redux is worth it.

Whatever you might decide to do with Metro 2033 and its sequels, you’ve only got a few days to do it, as Steam’s free to keep Metro 2033 promo and the Metro franchise sale will wrap up on March 15th.

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