Rank One Computing (ROC) is asking the facial recognition industry to take the lead with regards to the ethical use of the technology. To that end, the company will be spearheading an industry campaign to come up with a code of ethics for facial recognition developers.
The campaign will be carried out in collaboration with the Security Industry Association (SIA). ROC is a member of the organization, and helped craft the SIA’s own core principles for the responsible use of facial recognition.
So what does an actual industry code of ethics look like? For its part, ROC suggested that facial recognition developers should avoid overreach with their applications, which is to say that developers should not push the technology into fields that could be controversial. However, it did not offer any details as to what qualifies as controversial, and even seemed to defend some uses (such as law enforcement) that have received considerable pushback from the public.
ROC claimed that those dissenting voices are a minority, and that there is in fact strong public support for government and security-based applications of facial recognition tech. It also dismissed concerns about a dystopian surveillance future, although it did not explain why those worries are misplaced.
Having said that, ROC did argue that user privacy should be at the forefront of any ethical code of conduct, and should focus on policy, use cases, and data management rather than the technology. In doing so, it acknowledged that facial recognition can be used for harmful ends, especially in cases in which bias is present, though it countered that the technology itself is agnostic, and that policy and best practice can help steer it in a more constructive direction.
ROC also noted that facial recognition has improved in recent years, and that a properly trained and representative algorithm will not have any of the biases that have been observed in lesser systems over the years. Meanwhile, an industry-led initiative could help create more clarity for developers given the lack of federal guidance and the mishmash of local and state laws.
“Our industry has an obligation to meet the public’s valid concerns about privacy,” said ROC COO David Ray. “At Rank One, we are committed to ensuring that FR deployments respect civil liberties, and we encourage our industry partners to join us in that commitment.”
The new ROC campaign will officially kick off at the upcoming Connect-ID conference scheduled for October 5-6 in Washington, DC. In the meantime, the company has received a $250,000 grant from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
September 7, 2021 – by Eric Weiss