San Francisco May Ban Use of Face Recognition by PoliceTop Stories

May 14, 2019 18:45
San Francisco May Ban Use of Face Recognition by Police

(Image source from: Wired)

San Francisco is making plans to ban the use of facial recognition by police and other city agencies, reflecting a growing backlash against a technology that is creeping into motor vehicle departments, airports, stadiums, stores, and home security cameras.

If come into force, San Francisco will the first city in the United States to put a ban for technology.

Government agencies around the United States have used the technology for more than a decade to scan databases for suspects and put a stop to identity fraud.

But recent progress in artificial intelligence has created more highly developed computer vision tools, making it effortless for police to spot a missing child or protester in a moving crowd or for retailers to analyze a shopper’s facial expressions as they see store shelves.

Microsoft, while opposing to an absolute ban, has urged lawmakers to set limits on the technology and further warning that leaving it unchecked could enable an oppressive dystopia reminiscent of George Orwell’s novel “1984.”

“Face recognition is one of those technologies that people get how creepy it is,” said Alvaro Bedoya, who directs Georgetown University’s Center on Privacy and Technology. “It’s not like cookies on a browser. There’s something about this technology that really sets  the hairs on the back of people’s heads up.”

Many argue that the use of technology will worry people and will one day not be able to go to a park, retail store or educational institution without being identified and tracked.

Hitherto, a handful of big box stores across the United States are trying out cameras with facial recognition that can guess their customers’ age, gender or temper as they walk by, with the goal of showing them targeted, real-time advertisements on in-store video screens.

By Sowmya Sangam

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