Facial Recogntion: An Important Technology Enters Choppy Waters

April 8, 2019

I wouldn’t hold my breath: The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) declares, “Governments Must Face the Facts About Face Surveillance, and Stop Using It.” Writers Hayley Tsukayama and Adam Schwartz begin by acknowledging reality—the face surveillance technology business is booming, with the nation’s law enforcement agencies increasingly adopting it. They write:

EFF supports legislative efforts in Washington and Massachusetts to place a moratorium on government use of face surveillance technology. These bills also would ban a particularly pernicious kind of face surveillance: applying it to footage taken from police body-worn cameras. The moratoriums would stay in place, unless lawmakers determined these technologies do not have a racial disparate impact, after hearing directly from minority communities about the unfair impact face surveillance has on vulnerable people. We recently sent a letter to Washington legislators in support of that state’s moratorium bill.

EFF’s communications may be having some impact.

DarkCyber noted that Amazon will be allowing shareholders a vote about sales of the online bookstore’s facial recognition technology, Rekognition. “AI Researchers Tell Amazon to Stop Selling Facial Recognition to the Police” does not explain how Amazon can remove its FAR from those entities which have licensed the technology.

DarkCyber believes that the US is poised to become a procurement innovation center. Companies and their potential customers have to figure out how to work together without creating political, legal, and financial disruptions.

A failure to resolve what seems to be a more common problem may allow vendors in other countries to capture leading engineers, major contracts, and a lead in an important technology.

Stephen E Arnold, April 8, 2019

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