Walking around without being constantly identified by AI could soon be a thing of the past, legal experts have warned. The use of facial recognition software could signal the end of civil liberties if the law doesn't change as quickly as advancements in technology, they say. Software already being trialled around the world could soon be adopted by companies and governments to constantly track you wherever you go. Shop owners are already using facial recognition to track shoplifters and could soon be sharing information across a broad network of databases, potentially globally. Previous research has found that the technology isn't always accurate, mistakenly identifying women and individuals with darker shades of skin as the wrong people.
Jimmy Gomez is a California Democrat, a Harvard graduate and one of the few Hispanic lawmakers serving in the US House of Representatives. But to Amazon's facial recognition system, he looks like a potential criminal. Gomez was one of 28 US Congress members falsely matched with mugshots of people who've been arrested, as part of a test the American Civil Liberties Union ran last year of the Amazon Rekognition program. Nearly 40 percent of the false matches by Amazon's tool, which is being used by police, involved people of color. This is part of a CNET special report exploring the benefits and pitfalls of facial recognition.
Face recognition is a stark example of a technology that is being deployed faster than society and the law can adopt new norms and rules. It lets governments and private enterprise track citizens anywhere there is a camera, even if they're not carrying any devices. In general, people who are in public don't have any legal expectation of privacy and can be photographed or recorded. Because of this, the technology has the potential to be more intrusive than phone tracking, the legality of which the U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide. There are only two states, Texas and Illinois, that limit private companies' ability to track people via their faces.
In this Oct. 31, 2018, file photo, a man, who declined to be identified, has his face painted to represent efforts to defeat facial recognition during a protest at Amazon headquarters over the company's facial recognition system, "Rekognition," in Seattle. San Francisco is on track to become the first U.S. city to ban the use of facial recognition by police and other city agencies. SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco is on track to become the first U.S. city to ban the use of facial recognition by police and other city agencies, reflecting a growing backlash against a technology that's creeping into airports, motor vehicle departments, stores, stadiums and home security cameras. Government agencies around the U.S. have used the technology for more than a decade to scan databases for suspects and prevent identity fraud. But recent advances in artificial intelligence have created more sophisticated computer vision tools, making it easier for police to pinpoint a missing child or protester in a moving crowd or for retailers to analyze a shopper's facial expressions as they peruse store shelves.