Big Brother wants your picture
The welcome news that the IRS will drop its creepy facial recognition program (and any biometric data it currently has will be deleted), is good news. But that’s just one small part of the wild west of facial recognition efforts underway elsewhere.
One the biggest efforts to make facial recognition global comes from the company ClearviewAI. And it’s telling investors it will have “100 billion facial photos in its database within a year, enough to ensure ‘almost everyone in the world will be identifiable…’”
And what would all this images – “equivalent to 14 photos for each of the 7 billion people on Earth” be used for?
… [it] would help power a surveillance system that has been used for arrests and criminal investigations by thousands of law enforcement and government agencies around the world.
And the company wants to expand beyond scanning faces for the police, saying in the presentation that it could monitor “gig economy” workers and is researching a number of new technologies that could identify someone based on how they walk, detect their location from a photo or scan their fingerprints from afar.
And that has a lot of people worried:
Clearview’s cavalier approach to data harvesting has alarmed privacy advocates, its peers in the facial recognition industry and some members of Congress, who this month urged federal agencies to stop working with the company, because its “technology could eliminate public anonymity in the United States.” Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) last year introduced a bill that would block public money from going to Clearview on the basis that its data was “illegitimately obtained.”
It doesn’t end with facial recognition:
The company says in the presentation that it has developed other systems beyond facial recognition, including for recognizing license plates and “movement tracking,” and that it is developing or researching a number of other surveillance techniques: camera software to detect guns and drugs; “gait recognition” systems to identify a person based on how they walk; “image to location” systems to pinpoint a person’s whereabouts based on a photo’s background; and “contactless fingerprint” recognitions systems to scan a person’s identity from afar.
The document offers no details on how those systems work, if at all. [Company head] Ton-That said the technologies “are all for the purpose of public safety, are in various stages of research and development, and have not been commercialized or deployed in any way.”
Create a powerful system that can spy on people cheaply and in great numbers, and some state actor will find a reason to use and abuse it.