The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is working with the Department of Homeland Security to develop an image quality assessment tool that could play an important role in the facial recognition industry.
Responding to a Bloomberg inquiry via email, a DHS spokesperson explained that the assessment tool in question will be “vendor-agnostic”, and aimed at “determining how well an image would be useful for biometric identification purposes.” Ultimately, the standard will “drive the development and implementation of best practices for face image capture,” the Department spokesperson explained.
Patrick Grother, a NIST computer scientist, elaborated further, explaining that the forthcoming Face Image Quality Standard will entail a number of criteria for assessment, including lighting and under- and overexposure, an issue that can contribute to racial disparities in the accuracy and effectiveness of facial recognition systems.
NIST researchers raised flags concerning evidence of racial bias among facial recognition systems as early as 2019, before the issue became more deeply entwined with debates about racialized policing and widespread protests in 2020.
Grother indicated that NIST expects to finish work on the Face Image Quality Standard by the end of next year.
The revelation comes as industry stakeholders await a new NIST ‘playbook’ for AI best practices, which could arrive as early as this week. And it comes amid tentative moves toward regulatory changes at the federal level, with the Biden Administration having issued an Executive Order in late May mandating the production of a research report on the use of facial recognition from the National Research Council and a separate report focused on police use of facial recognition to be jointly drafted by the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the US Attorney General.
Those reports, due within six months and 18 months, respectively, could significantly impact policy discussions as NIST prepares to publish its Face Image Quality Standard.
Asked by Bloomberg’s Josh Axelrod whether the forthcoming NIST standard would be tied to contract evaluations, the DHS declined to say.
IDEMIA’s Donnie Scott, however, was happy to weigh in. Scott, who was named CEO of IDEMIA’s Identity and Security North America division in early 2021, argued that NIST standards like the impending Face Image Quality Standard should be “leveraged in government procurements as a way to make sure that we have a common bar and threshold set that the algorithms chosen, the providers used, and how the technologies were developed was responsible, ethical, highly effective, and very useful.”
Source: Bloomberg Law
August 22, 2022 – by Alex Perala