Rapid adoption of facial recognition exposes dangerous pitfalls

Rapid adoption of facial recognition exposes dangerous pitfalls
Illustration of a pixelated Mugshot.

Illustration by Maura Losch/Axios

Facial recognition technology is rapidly developing and being deployed at a rapid pace. This makes it difficult to identify alarming dangers.

It matters why: Biometric surveillance is rapidly growing in police, airports, and retail shops. Critics say that the results can be too easily trusted without sufficient double-checking.

Get up to speed: This latest technology for face recognition surveillance is used to quickly identify individuals seen on security cameras.

  • This tool combines security camera footage with photos that are tied to an individual’s identity. It can be used in many databases, or made publicly accessible online such as police mugshots and social media profiles.
  • You can also unlock your smartphone or tablet using facial recognition without entering a password.

The news is driving: According to his lawyer, a Georgian Black man spent almost one week behind bars after his facial recognition software incorrectly identified him as a New Orleans suspect.

  • The Advocate reports that the man, who claimed he had never been to Louisiana, was freed by detectives.
  • Wired last year reported that at least three previous false arrests have been made using facial recognition technology. All of them involved Black men. This technology is known for failing to correctly identify Black faces.

New York City A personal injury lawyer claimed that she was recently kicked out Radio City Music Hall by Madison Square Garden Entertainment after her facial recognition technology had identified her.

  • Kelly Conlon is a lawyer who represents a company involved in a lawsuit against an MSG-operated restaurant.
  • MSG banned lawyers from firms that are involved in litigation against it from all its properties. This includes the arena where Rangers and Knicks play. To enforce the ban, MSG is using facial recognition software that sports venues and other venues increasingly use as security tools.
  • The company stated that while we are disappointed by this policy, it is impossible to ignore the fact litigation creates an inherently adversarial atmosphere.” The statement was sent to The New York Times.

Zoom out Some states and cities that had previously restricted face recognition are considering whether they will loosen their restrictions to combat rising crime. Some are sticking with their guns.

  • In 2021, Massachusetts established strict limits for police facial recognition use. South Orange in New Jersey decided this week not to add the technology to its network of street cameras.
  • Virginia legislators lifted the ban last year on technology use by police officers. New Orleans has significantly reduced restrictions.

They are saying this: Critics point out the Madison Square Garden meeting as an example private company overreach.

  • Evan Greer, Director of Fight for the Future’s digital rights advocacy organization, stated in a statement that “this is precisely why we need to ban the use of facial recognition surveillance at places of public accommodation such as bars, restaurants and retail stores and in music and sports venues.”

We’re keeping an eye on: A number of federal legislators have proposed bills to limit the widespread use facial recognition technology. These proposals are still in the early stages.

What’s next: Technology will continue to improve facial recognition technology — University of Georgia researchers work on a system that uses only the shape of ears to recognize faces.

  • Surveillance-based facial recognition will continue to grow despite ethical and efficacy concerns. At major airports, the Transportation Security Administration has been testing this technology.

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