back to article Facial recognition tech has outpaced US law – and don't expect the Feds to catch up

If anything could compel the US government to regulate facial-recognition technology, a report sponsored by federal law enforcement urging just that may do the trick.  Produced by a National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) committee after spending two years studying the capabilities and implications of …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Really the only effective way to combat it would be mass refusal to participate. But that ain't going to happen either. Orwell wasn't too many years out.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Just look into your vidscreen to login to BigBrother-Eats(tm) and have your chocolate ration delivered to your door in 6-8 weeks

  2. Sora2566 Bronze badge

    Corporate lobbing has done so much damage to the world it isn't funny.

  3. martinusher Silver badge

    But its already widely used -- even by the government

    I think there needs to be some qualification about what facial recognition is and what its used for. Every comment I read about it talks in terms of Big Brother searching the crowd for miscreants but realistically that's not how its used much -- yet. We use facial recognition to screen people at airports and ports, to verify their identity. If the system isn't sure or makes a mistake then the job is then passed to a person who does exactly the same thing.

    Law enforcement would like to extend this, obviously. In the UK the Metropolitan Police already employ human 'super-recognizers', people who can reliably pick a face out of a crowd, and its pretty certain that they also use software to pre-screen likely candidates for them. (I'm not aware of this being done in the US.)

    The complaint I hear about racial bias is just desperate searching for a reason -- any reason -- for it not to be employed (or employed with so many constraints that it becomes useless). This is hiding the real problem with the technology -- it works quite well and can only get better. I have no interest in living in a society that logs my face ANPR style every time I walk down the street (or drive a car -- the systems can see inside vehicles). Its far too easy to abuse.

    ...and talking of ANPR, where's the backlash against it? How come the UK allowed cameras to be installed everywhere and automatic monitoring of road traffic? (Its a bit tricky for the police to do this here in the US but the workaround is quite simple, you get a private corporation to collect the data and then buy it from them.)

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: But its already widely used -- even by the government

      The complaint I hear about racial bias is just desperate searching for a reason -- any reason -- for it not to be employed (or employed with so many constraints that it becomes useless).

      I assume you're not part of the affected ethnic groups then?

      Racial Discrimination in Face Recognition Technology

      This was the top result, but there are load of other studies.

    2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: How come the UK allowed cameras to be installed everywhere...?

      Because successive UK governments of all stripes, or at least the civil servants behind them, have an ever-increasing fetish for pervasive surveillance of everyone and everything. And we the UK public had no say in the decision, as usual. All done for our grand benefit, apparently.

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: But its already widely used -- even by the government

      I oppose it whether it works or doesn't. I focus on its inaccuracy, not just because I want it to be taken down, but because that's one convincing reason why we shouldn't have it. There are some people who don't understand why a perfect facial recognition system is a problem who can understand why a ridiculously biased one is a problem. And it is biased as frequently demonstrated by every experiment they run with it. That bias looks bad when it's the police using it to scan a crowd and stopping anyone identified for questioning. That bias may look more benign when it's more people from a certain group that get double-checked at an airport, but the cause is the same and the problem should not be ignored.

      The verification of identity is just the first use of it, possibly intended to ease people into the idea that facial recognition is common. Even there, there are serious problems both with privacy and with inaccuracy. Meanwhile, there is no good argument for having it there when the task can be better performed with previous methods and could likely be skipped entirely.

  4. Dostoevsky

    You missed the states...

    ...who should usually be the ones regulating things outside the scope of Washington, D.C.'s powers. My state of Texas is ready to sue Meta for extracting biometric data from images uploaded to their services, with laws that allow fines of $25K *per violation*.

    It's illegal to collect biometric data without the informed consent of the user here. I know Illinois has something similar, as well.

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: My state of Texas is ready to sue Meta for extracting biometric data

      Colour me surprised. I'd expect something like that from Cali, but not Texas.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: My state of Texas is ready to sue Meta for extracting biometric data

        Texas hates Meta, and Paxton loves (loves) lawsuits. Biometrics are just an excuse.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like