There’s a new online service that is designed to help people become aware of whether or not their Flickr photos have been used to train any facial recognition algorithms.
As TNW reports, Exposing.ai uses information from image datasets that are publicly available and — after entering in a username, photo URL, or hashtag — lets you know whether your pictures are among those that have been scraped by developers to train their facial recognition algorithms.
This past year has seen the use and abuse of facial recognition technology move to the forefront of news coverage regarding the biometrics industry on a number of occasions. Throughout the world there have been stories of governments, law enforcement agencies, and private companies using the tech to surveil and track people, often without their knowledge or consent.
A number Chinese government agencies and private companies have faced criticism for what has been revealed to be a massive surveillance operation targeting the country’s Uighur population, a Muslim minority group located in the north-western Xinjiang region of China.
In North America, the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) has been the subject of headlines as a number of high-profile companies have been on the receiving end of lawsuits under it, having recorded and/or stored an individual’s biometric data in the State of Illinois without plaintiffs’ express written consent.
BIPA has proven so popular among privacy advocates that in August of last year, a pair of US Senators proposed a version of the legislation that would apply to the rest of the United States.
Aside from major individual cases involving the abuse of facial recognition systems, a 2019 study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) revealed that many of the algorithms these systems are based on exhibit a pronounced racial bias against people of colour and women, due to divergent accuracy rates.
Though Exposing.ai can tell you if your Flickr images have been used by facial recognition training algorithms, it’s not possible to remove your photos from existing datasets. The service does note, however, that it plans to integrate information regarding how users can request their images be removed from future releases of AI systems.
The creators of Exposing.ai have also said they hope that in the future they will be able to include other photo search options beyond Flickr.
February 2, 2021 – by Tony Bitzionis