Cybersecurity expert James Feldkamp relays to online readers concerns proposed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation to the government over facial recognition regulations.
On April 22, the Surveillance Litigation Director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) attended a hearing on concerns over law enforcement’s use of facial recognition technology. The Director, Jennifer Lynch, gave testimony to the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice, and the EFF published a transcript of the hearing shortly after.
“The EFF leads the fight for civil liberties across the internet and other digital avenues,” says James Feldkamp. “The nonprofit organization has been at the forefront of protected freedoms in the digital world since it was founded in 1990. Recently, facial recognition technology has become more commonplace, and the EFF and others have raised concerns that its unchecked use is a severe threat to society. Public scandals such as the recent Clearview AI case reinforce the need for these new parameters.”
In her address to the Commission, Lynch expressed her organization’s desire to see facial recognition practices undergo improved investigations at many levels, including federal, state, and local. In addition, the EFF hopes the government can create new policy restrictions that keeps the technology in check, especially when used by law enforcement against civilians.
“There’s not a lot of quality control when it comes to facial recognition today, namely because it’s a newer technology, but we’re already facing pressing concerns that demand regulations,” says James Feldkamp. “For one thing, the current algorithms used in facial recognition tech are frequently inaccurate when identifying people of color. Jennifer Lynch also brought up the fact that law enforcements have used the technology without any significant public oversight, which can lead to widespread abuse and violations.”
Facial recognition was detailed as a threat to civil liberties during the address, and Lynch asked that law enforcement’s access to the technology should have much stronger limitations than what’s currently in place. The technology has been used to scour internet archives and databases (such as social media profiles) to locate a person based on their face. The EFF believes widespread use by the government has the potential to harm the liberties of civilians everywhere, especially when given liberty to secretly identify people walking down public streets under surveillance cameras.
“Facial recognition technology has can dramatically change society for the worse, inching us closer to an oppressive form of government if not kept in check,” says James Feldkamp. “Organizations like the EFF serve as a voice for public freedom and work to ensure that we put rules in place before use of the technology gets out of hand.”