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NEC weighs in on regulation of facial recognition and urges biometric industry dialogue


The debate around government regulation of facial recognition and how the industry can responsibly protect people from discrimination, invasions of privacy, and rights violations is welcomed by NEC, as the company believes it will lead to positive solutions, according to an announcement.

NEC Corporation President and CEO Takashi Niino says the company welcomes the dialogue and greater industry collaboration, referring to recent calls for regulation of facial recognition, presumably in reference to a blog post by Microsoft President Brad Smith.

“As more companies come forward to add their voices to this dialogue, I believe we will start to see new and different roles that these technologies can play in protecting and improving our global communities,” Takashi writes in the announcement.

“In the United States, for example, the Department of Homeland Security is today using facial recognition technology at more than a dozen airports to positively identify travelers entering and exiting the United States,” he continues. “Three days after the technology was introduced at Dulles International Airport, an imposter was stopped using a fake document. As recently as late November, the lead architect of this system from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported that it had identified at least 36 imposters so far. Additionally, the first curb-to-gate biometric experience in the U.S. just launched at a major international airport terminal to a positive customer response, potentially changing the future of travel.

“NEC, therefore, supports various governments’ considerations for reasonable policy, setting privacy standards for personal information and preventing unlawful discrimination related to this technology. Businesses, consumers, and the government should work together to help balance the need for privacy with the benefits of protecting our society, securing our borders and providing consumer convenience without the fear of negative consequences.”

Takashi also stresses the importance of accuracy in biometric technologies, and reaffirms NEC’s commitment to NIST and its evaluations. He notes that the company has established a “Digital Trust Business Strategy Division” which will work on a strategy based on “Human Rights by Design,” and consider the impact of AI and biometric adoption on human rights and privacy.

“NEC seeks an adoption path for these technologies that is in line with the worldwide principals of freedom, justice, rights to privacy, transparency and continuous improvement,” Takashi says. “At NEC, we strongly believe that facial recognition can add significant value to our lives.”

A trial of NEC facial recognition technology at a convenience store located at its head offices in Tokyo commenced this month.

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