Facial Recognition Technology - Ethical Perspectives


To understand what ethical frameworks, thought leadership, and/or perspective exists surrounding how to use facial recognition technology. Specifically to understand what regulations or trends or news is impacting this. An ideal response would be a list of frameworks that others have, a list of trends or news that could impact that, and how to position this best with customers.

Early Findings

  • Using facial recognition data for security purposes at first sounded like a great idea to government agencies and as well as other organizations working to catch criminals and keep people safe until it was found that identification of ethnic minorities had an up to 35% error rate. Consequently, cities on both coasts have decided not to use it.
  • John McClurg, Vice President and Ambassador-At-Large for Blackberry Cylance, has identified five AI ethics frameworks to get technology and ethics leaders started.
  • Microsoft has invested in Anyvision, a startup that "uses facial recognition to surveil Palestinians throughout the West Bank, in spite of the tech giant’s public pledge to avoid using the technology if it encroaches on democratic freedoms."
  • A government bipartisan privacy oversight board just toured the Transportation Security Administration’s facial recognition pilot program in Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport as part of a comprehensive review of the Homeland Security Department’s expanding biometrics projects.
  • About half of American adults are already in a "law enforcement face recognition network," according to a new study by researchers at Georgetown University's Center on Privacy and Technology.
  • Law enforcement from Maryland to California, have used social media surveillance software that permits officers to follow Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts of individual users.
  • The UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has expressed concern about the current state of the government’s approach to biometrics and forensics, and has reiterated its call for a halt to all further trials of automatic facial recognition technology until issues have been resolved.
  • As face recognition is adopted by retail faster than any other industry, experts are taking note. In a recent webinar, D&D Daily Publisher and Editor Gus Downing stated that face recognition is on an “inevitable path to retail adoption.” Downing, considered one of the foremost loss prevention thought leaders, is just one expert that now sees massive advantages for retailers who use a face recognition system.
  • The market for this technology is growing exponentially. According to a research report "Facial Recognition Market" by Component, the facial recognition industry is expected to grow $3.2 billion in 2019 to $7.0 billion by 2024 in the U.S. The most significant uses for the technology being for surveillance and marketing.
  • The main reason for concerns amongst citizens is the lack of federal regulations surrounding the use of facial recognition technology. Many are worried about how accurate the technology is and if there are biases and misinformation in these technologies. One issue, for example, is that the technology has been proven in multiple studies to be inaccurate at identifying people of color, especially black women.
  • Currently, the Chinese government is already using facial recognition to arrest jaywalkers and other petty crimes that cause debate amongst what is considered basic civil rights and privacy issues versus protecting the public. Accuracy and accountability are necessary when it comes to the use of technology, especially regarding the justice system.
  • The latest legislation push to put limitations on facial recognition technology is a California bill, AB 1215, also referred to as the Body Camera Accountability Act. This bill will temporarily stop California law enforcement from adding face and other biometric surveillance technology to officer-worn body cameras for use against the public in California.
  • An activist group called Fight for the Future said facial recognition is an invasive technology that can be used for surveillance. “Facial recognition really doesn’t have a place in society,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future. “It’s deeply invasive, and from our perspective, the potential harm to society and human liberties far outweigh the potential benefits.”
  • In addition to this public search, we scanned our proprietary research database of over 1 million sources and were unable to find any specific research reports that address the stated goals.

Summary Of Our Early Findings Relevant To The Goals

  • Our first hour of research provided several insights surrounding some regulations, trends, news, and some ethical frameworks surrounding the use of facial recognition technology and it has made us confident that there is an abundance of publicly available information on this topic from credible and reliable sources.
  • We assumed a global focus for this research, and will continue to do so unless otherwise directed. If a more targeted approach is desired, for example, the United States, this would have to be clearly communicated to us in any reply.
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