Almost 70 percent of adults worldwide want regulated government use of facial recognition, AI

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A new survey from market research company Ipsos found that the general adult population under the age of 75 is not really that radical when AI and facial recognition are deployed by governments for national security.

The research comes on the heels of U.S. advocacy group Fight for the Future initiating a campaign to stop the US government from using biometric facial recognition technology, arguing it “poses a threat to human society and basic liberty that far outweighs any potential benefits.”

Over 65 percent of adults across 26 countries around the world say they are ok with the government’s use of these technologies to maintain order and security, but only under certain circumstances and strict regulations. The highest percentages were noted in Sweden (54 percent) and Malaysia (74 percent).

On the other hand, 19 percent say privacy would no longer be an issue for them, and they would give it up to allow the use of AI and facial recognition as necessary. High support for unrestricted government use of AI and facial recognition was fond in India (32 percent) and Sweden (30 percent), compared to only 10 percent in Japan, 11 percent in Hungary and 12 percent in Canada. Males (22 percent) are more likely to give up on their privacy than women (17 percent).

Approximately 16 percent say government AI and facial recognition use should never be allowed. Generally, supporters of a total ban represent a very small percentage in each country, “at most one quarter,” the survey found. For example, 24 percent of Germans and 23 percent of Brits call for a total ban, while only 6 percent in Peru and 9 percent in South Korea do so. According to Ipsos, those with a lower level of education (19 percent) tend to be more radical in their opinion, while fewer university-level graduates would not accept the use under certain circumstances (12 percent).

The survey was conducted for the World Economic Forum on Ipsos’s Global Advisor online platform between May 24 and June 7, on 20,107 adults.

The Ada Lovelace Institute, on the other hand, has found in a survey that most UK adults would like the government to regulate and restrict the police use of facial recognition. A majority (55 percent) want the government to limit police use of facial recognition, though almost 50 percent of respondents agree to the daily use by police if controls are justified. The survey also found that 29 percent are uncomfortable with any use of the technology by police, and 46 percent want the right to opt out of its use.

The use of facial biometrics for commercial use are more widely opposed, with 77 percent saying they are uncomfortable with it in shops to track customers and 76 percent reporting being uncomfortable with its use by HR departments. Majorities are also opposed to facial recognition in schools (67 percent) and on public transportation (61 percent).

A survey released at the beginning of 2019 showed one in four Americans favor strict regulation of government facial recognition use.

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