Edward Santow is asking Australian lawmakers to pass more stringent facial recognition regulations. Santow is the country’s Human Rights Commissioner, and argued that law enforcement agencies should not be allowed to use facial recognition until there are meaningful legislative guidelines to prevent the abuse of the technology.
The statements are at least partially a response to ongoing anti-police brutality demonstrations in the United States. IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft have all announced that they will no longer be selling facial recognition technology to the police, though the terms and durations of the three bans are all slightly different.
Opponents of facial recognition have repeatedly warned about mass surveillance and documented instances of racial bias. Santow echoed those concerns, noting that one-to-many facial recognition solutions represent a much greater threat than the one-to-one systems used in smartphones and other authentication systems.
“One-to-many is much more prone to error and the consequences of error can be exceptionally serious,” said Santow. “In a law enforcement context, if you wrongly identify someone as a suspect, then you can take all kinds of action against that person that can violate their basic human rights.”
Australian lawmakers have tabled an Identity-matching Services Bill that would make it easier for government agencies to share facial images. However, the Bill was withdrawn in 2018 and 2019 after privacy advocates argued that it did not do enough to protect civil liberties. While the public believes that facial recognition could be a useful tool in an abstract sense, many may not recognize how corporations and governments would use their biometric information.
“People think they’re going to have a lot more say in how it happens and the degree to which they can choose to be subject to it,” said Monash University researcher Robbie Fordyce.
“We want to see this technology developed in a way that is safe and provides economic opportunities, but we need safeguards that prevent harm to humans,” added Santow.
The state of Washington recently passed a bill that now stands as one of the first major attempts to pass comprehensive facial recognition legislation.
Source: Brisbane Times
June 16, 2020 – by Eric Weiss