Recent lawsuits against Facebook challenging its use of facial recognition and photo tagging software to identify people in photos uploaded to its website are moving forward. In short, Facebook is carrying out phase scanning without the consent of people in the photos. In another case, Uber is beginning to use facial recognition technology in 18 cities, periodically taking selfies of drivers to ensure they match official records.
In a development last week, the new Israeli tech startup Faception claims its face recognition technology can spot terrorists, pedophiles, white-collar criminals, and more. The company ironically refers to its system as a “profiling” technology, a word with negative connotations in the US. The question is, how many “false positives” does the software create?
Global Issue, Local Laws
Governments in Canada and Europe have been at the forefront of curtailing face recognition technology and protecting individual rights. US tech companies, many in the midst of mounting legal fights related to facial recognition technology, are seeking to reduce the likelihood of lawsuits by changing current laws.
California and 47 other states currently have no laws that regulate the use of biometrics and facial recognition technologies. At the same time, Apple, Google, and nine other tech companies are seeking to water down or defeat the Biometric Information Privacy Act, which gives consumers the right to sue if biological markers including fingerprints and “faceprints” are used without permission. These companies are also supporting trade deals that would reduce regulations related to digital trade.
According to tech industry advocates, biometrics and facial recognition have the potential to replace the decades old password system which leads to hacking and other software maladies.