3 Concerns of Facial Recognition and Privacy

In the last few weeks, three very interesting articles were published specifically around the use of facial recognition technology. In fact, all three articles address what seems to the central concern around AI-based facial recognition:

  • How should these databases be created?
  • Who should be able to access the technology?
  • How can regulators limit the possible abuse of organizations using the technology?

These new articles are critically important as biometric privacy policies (e.g. facial recognition) is not standardized across the US. For example, the Washing Privacy Act (WPA) has very strict standards around facial recognition while CCPA is a little more relaxed. 

Here are 3 recent articles highlighting different views on facial recognition:

Illinois Class-Action Lawsuit Over Facial Recognition Privacy:

New York has long been a state the empowers the use of technology and the freedom to build exciting companies. Recently one of those companies, Clearview AI is receiving some negative press specifically in the state of Illinois. The Clearview AI technology allows law enforcement agencies to act on real-time facial recognition technology. While this technology has been adopted by other law enforcement agencies across the globe citizens in Illinois feel it is violating their civil rights.

In a recent ZDNET article found here states that Clearview AI was scraping social media outlets and illegally capturing people’s photos. The citizens in the lawsuit are suggesting the process of scaping the photos violates biometric privacy.

It is really interesting about this process is how Illinois is using a class-action method to sue Clearview AI. And how a company not based in NY is still required to meet the privacy standards of another state. This trend will certainly continue until we have a national standard for privacy. Until we will have problems similar to the EU and London noted below.

London Police Using Facial Recognition:

In London police announce they are looking to use enhanced facial recognition technology to improve public safety by identifying criminals in real-time. In fact, the London police department is planning on rolling out the same company Clearview AI mentioned above in the new class-action suit.

A recent article from The New York Times found here highlights several countries and various security forces all finding success with the new technology including Clearview AI and NEC. However, opponents are quick to highlight the inaccuracy of the new technology the basis including gender and race. 

The most interesting part of this article is the police do seem to be as transparent as possible about using this technology. And from the tone of the article, it seems like they will be moving forward with it. However, the rest of the EU may not be in agreement.

EU Considers 5 year Ban on Facial Recognition:

The EU recently released a statement on possibly placing a 5-year ban on facial recognition technologies while the governing body determines how to effectively reduce police officially possibly abusing the technology. A recent article from the BBC can be found here

Regulators’ primary concern is police using surveillance videos to automatically scan the public via automated facial recognition technology. Some are concerned the technology is intrusive and inaccurate.

The best part of this story is the regulators are spending the time to learn the best way to use technology which ensuring public safety via the police department.

In summary, legal bodies need to be in alignment with new technology companies and law enforcement organizations. The real challenge is to know when to use technology to protect the public while ensuring the public is being protected while not abusing the technology. Only time will tell how the marriage of law, justice, and technology will all be aligned. 

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