Proposed ban on local facial recognition technology starts fire – Reason.com

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Around 20 different state and local governments have so far banned some uses of facial recognition technology by law enforcement agencies. The Connecticut city of Hamden, population approximately 61,000, is considering joining these jurisdictions by enacting an ordinance prohibiting all city officials from “receiving, storing, accessing, or using a facial recognition system or information obtained from a facial recognition system “.

The proposed ordinance prompted the Washington, DC-based think tank of the Information Technology Innovation Foundation (ITIF) to issue a press release defying the ban, accusing the city council of “signaling virtues” and suggesting that the ordinance “accidentally” served its local officials from using iPhones. ” The proposed Hamden Ordinance appears to be a slightly shortened version of the Northern California Model Ordinance banning facial recognition from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The ITIF has a small point that Hamden’s elaborately worked out regulation proposal could be interpreted in such a way that it prohibits such security functions as the unlocking technology of the iPhone’s face recognition. However, this particular problem could easily be fixed if the city council members simply looked a little further north and modeled their ban on the Boston Ordinance Banning Face-Surveillance Technologies. This regulation explicitly makes exceptions for personal authentication technologies such as iPhone face recognition.

Of course, the ITIF is actually against banning the state’s use of facial recognition technology. The think tank is right that facial recognition could be very useful in helping the police verify the identities of people (they are who they claim to be) by matching a recent scan of their faces with previously taken photos or a identify unknown person through a comparison. Photo with a database of familiar faces.

ITIF is also right that the accuracy of many facial recognition systems has improved a lot. That is a good thing, but that is not the main concern of proponents of the ban.

The real concern behind the bans is the accumulation of huge databases of facial prints that could provide comprehensive, real-time video tracking of citizens as they visit their doctors, attend religious services, engage in private sexual activities, and attend political gatherings, gatherings, etc. participate in protests. The proposed regulation explicitly states “that facial recognition poses a unique and significant threat to civil rights and freedoms for residents and visitors to Hamden City” and that “public use of facial recognition may interfere with the exercise of constitutionally protected freedom of expression”.

Many data protection organizations agree with these results. “Face surveillance is deeply dangerous for many reasons,” argued the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in its letter in support of the Boston Ordinance. The letter continues:

First, it invades our privacy by tracking a unique marker that we can show everywhere and not change: our own faces. Surveillance cameras in public spaces are on the rise and are operated by countless government and private institutions. These cameras are increasingly being networked to form uniform systems. Face monitoring technologies are becoming increasingly powerful. Combined, these technologies can track anyone who lives and works in public. We must not build infrastructure that allows the government to easily keep track of where everyone is going, what they are doing and who they are with.

The EFF letter goes on to say, “Once the government has a facial surveillance infrastructure in place, there is an inherent risk that thieves will steal their sensitive data, employees misuse it, and policymakers redeploy it in new and unforeseen ways that make governments dangerous not allowed to use at all. “

State and local officials are not alone in their concerns about the massive privacy risks posed by facial surveillance technologies. In June, a group of Democrats in Congress reinstated the Face Recognition Act and Biometric Technology Moratorium from 2021. This law would do it.unlawful to any federal agency or federal agency officially, in an official capacity, acquire, own, access, or use in the US—(1) any biometric surveillance system; or (2) Information from biometric dataMonitoring system operated by another entity. “

Protecting citizens from intrusive government surveillance is a virtue worth signaling.


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