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Bill intends to prevent companies from using facial recognition without consent



Photo: AP / Jayson Photography

Following this week's news that a major tech company had scraped nearly a million images from Flickr to train a facial recognition tool, Senate lawmakers passed a law on introduced two parties that seeks to ban commercial users of facial recognition by collecting and disclosing such data without the consent of the public.

The bill was drafted by Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri and Democratic Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii, members of the Senate Committee on Trade, Science and Transportation.

The Act, known as the Commercial Actual Recognition Privacy Act of 2019, follows the disclosure of a project at IBM that has extracted nearly one million photos from Flickr to feed algorithms. The company said it would reduce prejudice in facial recognition technology. Although the photos were listed under a Creative Commons license and could therefore be reused by the owners without additional approvals, NBC News said that the photographers first reported on the project, but were alarmed.

"None of the people I photographed had the idea that their pictures were used this way," said a manager from a PR firm in Boston. One expert told NBC that the practice is quite common, and in order to train the artificial intelligence underlying facial recognition technology, researchers often resort to "only those images that are available in the wild." Others said that it was unethical photos freely available to the public for a completely different purpose to train the effective surveillance technology with broad applications in the fields of business and law enforcement.

Senator Blunt expressed growing concern among Americans about how their data is collected and used in this area. "That's why we need guard rails to ensure that this technology is responsibly implemented as development progresses," he said in a statement.

While the head of IBM research at IBM assured reporters that they were committed to privacy, and whoever wished NBC News that their photos could be removed from the record, the process was "almost impossible ". NBC also developed a tool that allows Flickr users to find out if their photos are part of the IBM dataset. (You can find it in this article.)

"Our faces are our identities. They are personal. So it's the responsibility of companies to ask people for permission before they track and analyze their faces, "said Senator Schatz, a member of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet. "Our bill ensures that people get the information and, more importantly, control over how their data is passed on to businesses with facial recognition technology."

The bill does not require prosecution at any level to prevent Use to seek approval The technology. Face recognition is now an integral part of the US border and ports of entry for all international travelers, including US citizens, according to an order signed two years ago by President Trump. BuzzFeed reported on Tuesday that Homeland Security is launching the systems nationwide before the 2021 deadline.

Most worrying for privacy advocates is the fact that the records were released. According to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) FOIA, there are no restrictions on how affiliate airlines can use the collected face recognition data. US officials refused to answer questions about privacy protection, Buzzfeed said.

In a statement to Gizmodo, lawmakers stated that facial recognition is used commercially, despite their commitment For safety reasons, many Americans have not known for over a decade that their faces are frequently scanned in public or corporate face recognition data be widely circulated with unknown third parties.

Blunt and Sweetheart's suggestion received immediate support Microsoft's President Brad Smith said he had been encouraged by the effort. Face recognition, he said, "needs to be regulated to protect against bias and discrimination" but also to protect consumer privacy. "19659004" calls facial recognition a "powerful and invasive" technology that needs to be tested for "accuracy" and bias, "said Chris Calabrese, vice president of policy at the Center for Democracy & Technology, saying the bill would help Americans do more to know how companies use and use them.

"We deserve clear rules and limits on how our faces can look, be identified and tracked over time," he said.


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