Yesterday, Amazon's quiet Rekognition program became very public, as new documents obtained by the ACLU of Northern California showed the system partnering with the city of Orlando and police camera vendors like Motorola Solutions for an aggressive new real-time facial recognition service. Amazon insists that the service is a simple object-recognition tool and will only be used for legal purposes. But even if we take the company at its word, the project raises serious concerns, particularly around racial bias. Facial recognition systems have long struggled with higher error rates for women and people of color -- error rates that can translate directly into more stops and arrests for marginalized groups. And while some companies have responded with public bias testing, Amazon hasn't shared any data on the issue, if it's collected data at all.
A photo from a summer camp posted to the camp's website so parents can view them. Venture capital-backed Waldo Photos has been selling the service to identify specific children in the flood of photos provided daily to parents by many sleep-away camps. Camps working with the Austin, Texas-based company give parents a private code to sign up. When the camp uploads photos taken during activities to its website, Waldo's facial recognition software scans for matches in the parent-provided headshots. Once it finds a match, the Waldo system (as in "Where's Waldo?") then automatically texts the photos to the child's parents.
Cardboard cutouts of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg stand outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington as he testified before a Senate panel last week. Cardboard cutouts of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg stand outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington as he testified before a Senate panel last week. A federal judge in California has ruled that Facebook can be sued in a class-action lawsuit brought by users in Illinois who say the social network improperly used facial recognition technology on their uploaded photographs. The plaintiffs are three Illinois Facebook users who sued under a state law that says a private entity such as Facebook can't collect and store a person's biometric facial information without their written consent. The law, known as the Biometric Information Privacy Act, also says that information that uniquely identifies an individual is, in essence, their property.
The question of whether you should let Facebook save your face is gaining in urgency as Facebook makes moves to expand its deployment of facial recognition. It faces a lawsuit by Illinois residents over the technology. SAN FRANCISCO -- Of all the information Facebook collects about you, nothing is more personal than your face. With 2.2 billion users uploading hundreds of millions of photos a day, the giant social network has developed one of the single-largest databases of faces and -- with so many images to train its facial recognition software -- one of the most accurate. The question of whether you should let Facebook save your face is gaining in urgency as it moves to expand its deployment of facial recognition, rolling it out in Europe, where it was scrapped in 2012 over privacy concerns and scanning and identifying more people in photos.