Understanding the Fight Against Facial Recognition
The growth of Clearview AI as a startup focusing on facial recognition is momentous. That could be largely linked to their alliance with law enforcement agents that are using the platform widely. While there exists little to no regulation around how this kind of tech is used, that has not stopped business from booming for all the parties involved.
There are outcries against the privacy invasion that comes in the way of facial recognition too. Recently, a hack of the company brought fresh debates to the fore about how safe facial data can be when with keepers like that – and how such data will also be used.
Facial Recognition Isn’t Your Friend
Surveillance has always been a touchy subject. So that the state does not go beyond reasonable means in surveilling an individual, certain laws and regulations were made. This requires that even law enforcement agents obtain permission from the judiciary arm of government before they can put anyone under surveillance.
Even at that, this surveillance has to be proportionate.
None of such moves has been placed around facial recognition. Not on a large scale, at least.
Before the Clearview AI hack was reported, the company admitted to having more than 3 billion faces on record. That is more than a third of everyone on the planet as of this moment. Seeing as many countries have not even heard of the company, that is shocking that they would have that many faces on file.
Official statements from the company claim that it mines data from social media networks and other open-source platforms for its database. In other words, they can collect picture you posted on the internet to populate a database of facial recognition technology. The important part of this business is remembering that all of this is done without your giving them any express permission to take such advantages of your image rights.
Social media platforms like YouTube, Google, and Facebook have already reached out to this company with a cease and desist. That is a laudable move to protect users, but we are just seeing one side of a bad coin. Facebook itself runs in-house facial recognition software which you have to manually turn off.
Recalling how many scandals Facebook has gotten into in the previous decade alone, we do not know if they would honor any privacy requests from the users. Thus, those pictures you removed facial recognition access from could still be in the system for all that we know.
If these systems were as good as they are claimed to be, we might not have much against them. Instead, there is a huge bias against races and women. This is not a basic fault of the technology itself but how it was trained. After all, it can only adapt to the models that it has been trained with, of which there is a gross under-representation of the negatively affected population density.
Such can lead to cases of false positives or negatives. Depending on how you look at it and the prevalent situation, it is never good news.
Where Do We Go from Here?
San Francisco has banned the widespread use of technology in the city. This is a huge move
from the city that considers itself one of the biggest, if not the biggest, concentrated tech hub in the world. If they cannot make such brazen moves to defend how tech is used, they might as well be a serious part of the problem in the tech space.
Other states and cities are working on similar moves, but they are not working fast enough.
The need for a widespread ban right now is not for the hate of facial tech systems but the lack of a regulatory framework within which it works. If we do not have that, it is just a matter of time before everyone has a facial recognition system of their own and takes stalking to a whole new level.
That is not something we are willing to take. Till things improve, the fight against facial recognition will remain.