March 1

Do You Own Your Face?

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That may seem like a simple and silly question, but the issue is a lot more complex from a legal perspective.

Facial recognition systems have been around for a long time. Still, most people don’t realize that various platforms can all work differently depending on the algorithms they use and the databases of captured facial images they have access to.

Some are more accurate than others, and many existing systems have significant problems and lower success rates when people of color are involved.

How Accurate Are Facial Recognition Systems – and Why Does It Matter?

Racial Discrimination in Face Recognition Technology

Facial recognition use by law enforcement has been controversial enough that several cities have already banned it. There have also been people falsely arrested due to mismatches with facial recognition.

Wrongfully arrested man sues Detroit police over false facial recognition match

Many of you may have also seen facial recognition systems used at airports to verify your identity before boarding an airplane or even when returning from international travel using the Customs and Border Protection Global Entry kiosks.

Facial Recognition: CBP and TSA Are Taking Steps to Implement Programs, but CBP Should Address Privacy and System Performance Issues

Facial recognition’s accuracy is the least of our worries, lawmakers say

Video surveillance systems in businesses are also used to improve security with facial recognition technology. We’ve even seen examples where the technology is being used to identify people in public places.

All About Facial Recognition for Businesses

In recent years, we’ve also seen facial recognition use expanding to verify identity for government programs, such as applying for unemployment benefits and even tax filing.

Within the past few weeks, a client asked my opinion about the United States Internal Revenue Service’s proposed contract with an outside service, which uses facial recognition as part of its identity validation process.

Due to the public outcry and concerns from the US Congress regarding this contract, the IRS canceled it and said that they would review other methods for verifying taxpayer identity.

IRS To Ditch Biometric Requirement for Online Access – Krebs on Security

Currently, in the United States, we don’t have federal laws regulating the collection or use of biometric data.

Biometrics Regulations: Navigating US Biometric Laws

That leads me to this question:

Do you own your face?

I’ll leave you with just a few questions to think about (because I could write a much longer blog pointing out even more issues with biometric data collection and use).

Do you have any expectation of privacy if a government agency, company, or even an individual decides to capture an image or video of your face?

In the past couple of years, both Amazon and Microsoft have suspended the sale of their facial recognition products to law enforcement. That leads me to wonder why.

Is it because the technology isn’t accurate enough or raises too many questions about privacy?

How can you know whether facial recognition technology is discriminatory, and to what extent?

How do you personally feel about facial recognition?

Should we rely on facial recognition for government (TSA, CBP, IRS) or law enforcement use, and should that usage be limited or regulated?

Do we need comprehensive laws about facial recognition and other biometric data collection and how this data can be used?

I’m personally glad to see the pushback from the IRS situation and how it seems to have ignited a conversation about the collection and use of biometric data that should have begun years ago.

Just because we have a technology like facial recognition doesn’t mean that we should use it without any controls or limits.

But where and how should we draw those lines?

That discussion is certainly too big to address in this blog post.

What do you think?



Tags

Cybersecurity, Privacy


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