The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) doesn't have a great track record with its own technology. DHS staff have been locked out of their own networks, first responder apps have been plagued by security issues and the federal employees were able to steal data from the agency. Now a new report calls DHS's pilot facial recognition program into question, too, saying that it makes frequent errors and may even not be legal.
Throughout the world, cities are getting smarter as connected devices become increasingly integral to a wide range of processes. Traffic management systems leverage real-time analyzation of video data to help keep people moving. Surveillance cameras help keep them protected and drive efficiencies of emergency first responders. IoT-enabled sensors are even capable of monitoring the structural health of buildings, critical infrastructure, and environmental conditions. These connected devices are designed to make our lives easier, safer, and more convenient, but they bring with them inevitable concerns about issues like privacy.
Facial recognition technology has dominated discussions in technology circles for some time now. Faced with increased surveillance in public spaces, it has become imperative for stakeholders to have some input on future deployments of these novel technologies. More importantly, the general public should have some degree of understanding of facial recognition and how it's being used today. Facial recognition is a term used to refer to technologies used to analyze and recognize faces from video recordings and still images. Advancements in image processing and AI have enabled today's computer to read even the subtlest details in the human face like eyelashes to differentiate people.
Microsoft president Brad Smith has called on governments around the world to immediately start work on adopting laws to regulate facial-recognition technology. It's not often that companies that stand to gain from a technology call for new laws that might constrain them. But Smith is worried enough about the spread of surveillance systems with powerful facial recognition that he's calling for lawmakers to act now. Tech companies are faced with a "commercial race to the bottom", which should have a "floor of responsibility" that allows competition but outlaws the use of facial recognition in ways that harm democratic freedom or enable discrimination. The call to action comes as China increasingly adopts facial recognition to monitor public spaces.