Microsoft has joined Amazon and IBM in banning the sale of face recognition technology to police departments and pushing for federal laws to manage the technology.
Microsoft is joining Amazon and IBM when it involves halting the sale of face recognition technology to police departments. during a statement released Thursday by Microsoft President Brad Smith, he said the ban would stick until federal laws regulating the technology’s use were put in a situation.
“We won’t sell face-recognition tech to police within the U.S. until there’s a national law in place… We must pursue a national law to control face recognition grounded within the protection of human rights,” Smith said during a virtual event hosted by the Washington Post.
On Wednesday, Amazon announced a one-year ban on police departments using its face recognition technology. during a short statement, the corporate said it might be pushing for “stronger regulations to control the moral use of face recognition technology.”
The actions by both tech behemoths dovetail actions by IBM earlier in the week. during a statement by IBM’s new CEO Arvind Krishna, he said that it’ll not offer general-purpose face recognition or analysis software “for mass surveillance, racism, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which isn’t according to our values and Principles of Trust and Transparency.”
Krishna’s statements were a part of a letter to Congress where he advocated policy reviews like “police reform, responsible use of technology, and broadening skills and academic opportunities.”
The moves align with a broader demand for enforcement reforms and involve racial justice by social justice activists within the wake of the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis, Minnesota police, and therefore the weeks of protests that followed.
“It shouldn’t have taken the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and much too many other black people, hundred of thousands of individuals taking to the streets, brutal enforcement attacks against protesters and journalists, and therefore the deployment of military-grade surveillance equipment on protests led by black activists for these companies to awaken to the everyday realities of police surveillance for black and brown communities,” said Matt Cagle, technology and civil liberties attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California during a statement to NBC News in the week.
The boom in Technology Prompts Privacy Alarms
The debate over the utilization of face recognition has been simmering for years. Big questions on privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties are raised by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, and therefore the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
Objections to police use of face recognition include a scarcity of consent by citizens to possess their biometric profiles captured by enforcement agencies. Civil liberties activists argue the technology is imperfect and will cause a mistaken detainment or arrests. The EFF cites a 2012 FBI study (.pdf) that found the accuracy rates of face recognition and African Americans were less than for other demographics.
“Face recognition is often wont to target people engaging in protected speech. for instance, during protests surrounding the death of Freddie Gray, the Baltimore local department ran social media photos through face-recognition to spot protesters and arrest them,” the EFF wrote.
In March, the ACLU filed a suit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over its use of face recognition technology in airports, decrying the government’s “extraordinarily dangerous path” to normalize facial surveillance also as its secrecy in making specific details of the plan public.
Currently, 22 airports are using what’s called the Traveler Verification Service (TVS), which as of June 2019 had scanned the faces of quite 20 million travelers entering and exiting the country, the ACLU said. Several major airlines, including Delta, JetBlue and United Airlines, have already partnered with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to create this surveillance infrastructure, while quite 20 other airlines and airports have committed to using CBP’s face-matching technology.
Facial Recognition has also come under attack because it relates to the technology’s use globally to trace the spread of coronavirus. The technology is seen as a zero-contact solution for identifying and tracking individuals exposed to someone infected with COVID-19.
Hawaii’s KHON2 News reported Thursday that the U.S. Department of Transportation is behind a test of face recognition technology at Honolulu’s international airport. It reported that “facial recognition is going to be tested along with side thermal temperature scanning… within the next few weeks.”
Political Prospects of Change
Staunch privacy advocates U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, on Thursday, urged the Trump administration to prevent “weaponizing” face recognition technology against protesters. during a letter co-signed by U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Sherrod Brown to Attorney General William Barr and therefore the Department of Homeland Security, Wyden chided federal enforcement for its use of face recognition technology on the peaceful protesters marching against the police killing of George Floyd.
“Advances in face recognition technologies shouldn’t be weaponized to victimize Americans across the state who are standing up for change,” Wyden wrote. “It is not any secret that Clearview AI’s controversial face recognition tool is employed by enforcement throughout your departments despite the various legal challenges it faces. However, scientific studies have repeatedly shown that face recognition algorithms are significantly less accurate for people with non-white skin tones.”
One legal victory came last September when California lawmakers passed a bill to ban the utilization of facial recognition-equipped cameras by enforcement. Meanwhile, a variety of legal challenges plan to slow the widespread use of the technology.
Last month the ACLU sued New York-based facial-recognition startup Clearview AI for amassing a database of biometric face-identification data of billions of individuals and selling it to 3rd parties without their consent or knowledge. The complaint, filed in Circuit Court of Cook County in Illinois, accused the corporate of violating an Illinois law that protects people “against the surreptitious and nonconsensual capture of their biometric identifiers.”
Clearview AI founder, Hoan Ton-That and, has defended his company’s practices and intentions. He said he welcomes the privacy debate, stating in various published reports that the technology is supposed to be employed by enforcement to assist solve crimes and to not violate people’s privacy.
Whether or not Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM have the market might and political capital to force new regulations is unclear. Meanwhile, the EFF reminds us that the list of face recognition vending firms is long – including 3M, Cognitec, DataWorks Plus, Dynamic Imaging Systems, FaceFirst, and NEC Global.
Source: threat post