Law Enforcement Rushes Headlong to Deploy Facial Recognition Tech
Law enforcement and facial recognition startups are working hand-in-hand to deploy AI to track suspects. But will innocent people be snared by unproven tech?
Alvarez notes that in the past, law enforcement was limited to using mug shots and official documents for identifying suspects. According to Alvarez, Clearview AI’s procedures mean that people who have never posted a photo of themselves online are now in its database if a friend or colleague has posted a photo with them in it.
Another problem with the rush of law enforcement agencies to employ facial recognition is that the tools are still in their infancy stage. A report from Risk Management magazine reveals that most facial recognition tools are still wildly inaccurate and prone to mismatches. Risk Management adds that it may not be legal under the 2018 California Data Privacy Act and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation for companies to scrape photographs, as Clearview AI has done, without explicit consent from users.
There is also bipartisan support in Congress for limiting the private sector’s ability to compile facial recognition databases. Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) have introduced the Commercial Facial Recognition Privacy Act (S. 847). If passed into law, S. 847 would require private sector companies to obtain affirmative consent before they can identify or track users. While slightly different, the Facial Recognition Technology Warrant Act of 2019 (S. 2878) from Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Mike Lee (R-UT) also addresses consumer privacy concerns. Under this bill, federal agencies would have to obtain a warrant before using facial recognition technology to track a person through ongoing surveillance.
Both bills are currently stuck in committee and Congress does not seem to have a sense of urgency in passing them. Meanwhile, both facial recognition companies and law enforcement agencies are rushing headlong to deploy the tools, before regulations can limit their use.