civil rights & constitutional law


The backlash against face recognition has begun – but who will win?

New Scientist

A growing backlash against face recognition suggests the technology has a reached a crucial tipping point, as battles over its use are erupting on numerous fronts. Face-tracking cameras have been trialled in public by at least three UK police forces in the last four years. A court case against one force, South Wales Police, began earlier this week, backed by human rights group Liberty. Ed Bridges, an office worker from Cardiff whose image was captured during a test in 2017, says the technology is an unlawful violation of privacy, an accusation the police force denies. Avoiding the camera's gaze has got others in trouble.


Amazon heads off facial ID rebellion

#artificialintelligence

Shareholders seeking to halt Amazon's sale of its facial recognition technology to US police forces have been defeated in two votes that sought to pressure the company into a rethink. Civil rights campaigners had said it was "perhaps the most dangerous surveillance technology ever developed". But investors rejected the proposals at the company's annual general meeting. That meant less than 50% voted for either of the measures. A breakdown of the results has yet to be disclosed.


Amazon votes to keep selling its facial recognition software despite privacy concerns

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Amazon will continue to sell its controversial facial recognition software to law enforcement and other entities after its shareholders shot down a proposal to reel the technology in. The vote effectively kills two initiatives brought before Amazon's board. One proposal would have required board approval to sell the software to governments, with approval only being given if the client meets certain standards of civil liberties. Another proposal called for a study on the technology's implications on rights and privacy. The exact breakdown of the vote is unclear and according to an Amazon representative it will only be made available via SEC filings later this week.


First UNESCO recommendations to combat gender bias in applications using artificial intelligence

#artificialintelligence

Beginning as early as next year, many people are expected to have more conversations with digital voice assistants than with their spouse. Presently, the vast majority of these assistants--from Amazon's Alexa to Microsoft's Cortana--are projected as female, in name, sound of voice and'personality'. 'I'd blush if I could', a new UNESCO publication produced in collaboration with Germany and the EQUALS Skills Coalition holds a critical lens to this growing and global practice, explaining how it: The title of the publication borrows its name from the response Siri, Apple's female-gendered voice assistant used by nearly half a billion people, would give when a human user told'her', "Hey Siri, you're a bi***." Siri's submissiveness in the face of gender abuse – and the servility expressed by so many other digital assistants projected as young women – provides a powerful illustration of gender biases coded into technology products, pervasive in the technology sector and apparent in digital skills education. According to Saniye Gülser Corat, UNESCO's Director for Gender Equality, "The world needs to pay much closer attention to how, when and whether AI technologies are gendered and, crucially, who is gendering them."


UK's controversial use of face recognition to be challenged in court

New Scientist

The first legal battle in the UK over police use of face recognition technology will begin today. Ed Bridges has crowdfunded action against South Wales Police over claims that the use of the technology on him was an unlawful violation of privacy. He will also argue it breaches data protection and equality laws during a three-day hearing at Cardiff Civil Justice and Family Centre. Face recognition technology maps faces in a crowd then compares results with a "watch list" of images which can include suspects, missing people and persons of interest. Police who have trialled the technology hope it can help tackle crime but campaigners argue it breaches privacy and civil liberty.


Police Are Feeding Celebrity Photos into Facial Recognition Software to Solve Crimes

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Police departments across the nation are generating leads and making arrests by feeding celebrity photos, CGI renderings, and manipulated images into facial recognition software. Often unbeknownst to the public, law enforcement is identifying suspects based on "all manner of'probe photos,' photos of unknown individuals submitted for search against a police or driver license database," a study published on Thursday by the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology reported. The new research comes on the heels of a landmark privacy vote on Tuesday in San Francisco, which is now the first US city to ban the use of facial recognition technology by police and government agencies. A recent groundswell of opposition has led to the passage of legislation that aims to protect marginalized communities from spy technology. These systems "threaten to fundamentally change the nature of our public spaces," said Clare Garvie, author of the study and senior associate at the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology.


Britain Has More Surveillance Cameras Per Person Than Any Country Except China. That's a Massive Risk to Our Free Society

TIME - Tech

How would you feel being watched, tracked and identified by facial recognition cameras everywhere you go? Facial recognition cameras are now creeping onto the streets of Britain and the U.S., yet most people aren't even aware. As we walk around, our faces could be scanned and subjected to a digital police line up we don't even know about. There are over 6 million surveillance cameras in the U.K. – more per citizen than any other country in the world, except China. In the U.K., biometric photos are taken and stored of people whose faces match with criminals – even if the match is incorrect. As director of the U.K. civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, I have been investigating the U.K. police's "trials" of live facial recognition surveillance for several years.


San Francisco Approves Ban On Government's Use Of Facial Recognition Technology

NPR Technology

In this Oct. 31 photo, a man has his face painted to represent efforts to defeat facial recognition. It was during a protest at Amazon headquarters over the company's facial recognition system. In this Oct. 31 photo, a man has his face painted to represent efforts to defeat facial recognition. It was during a protest at Amazon headquarters over the company's facial recognition system. San Francisco has become the first U.S. city to ban the use of facial recognition technology by police and city agencies.


Will Artificial Intelligence Help Improve Prisons?

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Artificial intelligence–connected sensors, tracking wristbands, and data analytics: We've seen this type of tech pop up in smart homes, cars, classrooms, and workplaces. And now, we're seeing these types of networked systems show up in a new frontier--prisons. Specifically, China and Hong Kong have recently announced that their governments are rolling out new artificial intelligence (AI) technology aimed at monitoring inmates in some prisons every minute of every day. In Hong Kong, the government is testing Fitbit-like devices to monitor individuals' locations and activities, including their heart rates, at all times. Some prisons will also start using networked video surveillance systems programmed to identify abnormal behavior, such as self-harm or violence against others.


Teaching AI, Ethics, Law and Policy

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

The cyberspace and the development of new technologies, especially intelligent systems using artificial intelligence, present enormous challenges to computer professionals, data scientists, managers and policy makers. There is a need to address professional responsibility, ethical, legal, societal, and policy issues. This paper presents problems and issues relevant to computer professionals and decision makers and suggests a curriculum for a course on ethics, law and policy. Such a course will create awareness of the ethics issues involved in building and using software and artificial intelligence.