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One in four Americans support strict government limits on facial recognition


Roughly one in four Americans (26 percent) are in favor of strict government-imposed limits on the use of facial recognition, according to a new survey from the Center for Data Innovation, and only 18 percent would support increased restrictions if they were shown to decrease public safety, and 55 percent would not support such restrictions.

The poll of U.S. internet users found that 20 percent want the government to impose limits that would block its use for airport security lines, and 24 percent want limits to stop stores from using it for shoplifting prevention. Older Americans were more likely to oppose government limits than those in the 18-34 age group. Limitations that come at the expense of public safety are opposed by 52 percent of those aged 18-34, and 61 percent of those 55 and older. Women are also less likely to support limits to facial recognition than men.

Police use of facial recognition is supported by 59 percent of respondents if it is 100 percent accurate, but by 39 percent if it is 80 percent accurate. Only 36 percent want the government to limit surveillance cameras, and only 18 percent support limits that would prevent their use in stores for shoplifting prevention, or that would result in less public safety.

The Center for Data Innovation is affiliated with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, which Gizmodo has previously pointed out is funded largely by industry stakeholders. Fast Company points out the potential interests of the group’s donors, but the results seem to suggest public sentiment that any new regulations of facial recognition, as called for by Microsoft President Brad Smith, should be light-touch or targeted. Drawing specific conclusions from the results is difficult, because of the broadness of the questions, however.

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