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article imageCampaign group puts case against facial recognition

By Tim Sandle     Sep 4, 2018 in Technology
London - Facial recognition technologies are growing in sophistication and are becoming increasingly used by governments and companies to identify individuals. While some support the enhanced security, others, like Liberty, express concerns.
On one side of the facial recognition discussion is companies like FaceFirst (a U.S. face recognition software provider) who put the case that facial recognition can assist greatly in addressing security matters (as featured in a Digital Journal interview).
On the other side, public concerns remain in relation to how facial technology works and how data privacy issues are handled. There are also concerns about the prevalence of the technology. A prime example is with China where the technology is found in many public places for use by security services. According to CBI Insights, Chinese authorities have plans to turn the country into world’s first fully ‘artificial intelligence state’ — at least in terms of using such technology in the form of facial recognition to monitor its citizens.
In other developments, Facebook has begun the legal process of requesting European and Canadian users to allow it to use facial recognition technology. This is for the purpose of identifying users in photos and videos. Elsewhere, some areas of the U.S., like New York and Orlando have started using facial recognition systems. In Orlando the police have begun using Amazon's Rekognition facial detection system, with the technology in use on the streets.
There are some measures that those concerned with these advances can take, such as software that can render images 'unscannable'. An example comes from the University of Toronto where researchers have developed an algorithm which protects users' privacy through a process that disrupts facial recognition tools. However, for some civil liberties campaign groups, the state must do more to place restrictions on the use of facial recognition software.
The U.K. human rights campaign group Liberty is seeking to restrict the use of facial recognition software on British streets. According to lawyer Megan Goulding, facial recognition systems used by the South Wales Police force are recording images and storing them on a database and there is the possibility that the recognition element draws on the use of people’s social media profiles.
Goulding notes, writing in the organization’s journal, “indiscriminately scanning everyone who passes by is a huge invasion of the public’s privacy rights.” She draws a parallel with capturing images (biometric data) as similar to the storing of fingerprints or DNA, without consent.
She also notes the is currently no British law that regulates the police use of facial recognition technology and no legal guidance as to how it can be used. Furthermore, there is no independent oversight to ensure that citizen’s rights are protected. A concern drawn upon is the use of such technology during peaceful protests.
The lawyer also expresses concern with the accuracy of most facial recognition systems, noting how the technology more often misidentifies a person rather than correctly identifying a person. Based on these concerns, Liberty is seeking reforms to police procedures and the British law in general.
More about Facial recognition, data security, Privacy, Data privacy
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