Trueface wins Air Force facial recognition contract as other government deployments court controversy
Trueface has been awarded its second contract for biometric facial recognition technology from the U.S. Air Force, to help secure base access and safety.
Computer vision systems featuring Trueface’s facial recognition, license plate recognition, and weapon detection capabilities will be deployed at military bases to speed up the entry process and enhance base security, according to the announcement.
The credentials and vehicle license plates of visitors and military personnel entering a base are traditionally checked manually for security purposes, Trueface says, which can take a long time and lead to long lines. Weapons detection will be used to monitor the movement of firearms outside of designated areas to provide faster response times to active shooter incidents.
Trueface provided research to the Air Force earlier this year under a Phase I contract, and will put it into practice on base by January 2020 with the new Phase II contract.
The contract comes at a time of significant uncertainty about the role of facial recognition in U.S. government operations, but Trueface CEO Shaun Moore told Biometric Update in an interview that the matter is seen differently by agency leaders than policy makers.
“We’ve seen the investment in artificial intelligence, and indications of investment in artificial intelligence and machine learning, so from the top down it does appear that the people making the buying decisions are more aware of the power the technology has, whether that’s to enhance the ability of our war-fighters to use information or ensuring people who access our bases abroad are the right people,” Moore explains.
Russian court dismisses privacy suit
A lawsuit filed against Moscow’s police and IT department on the grounds that the city’s extensive use of facial recognition violates Russian privacy laws has been thrown out of court in its first hearing, Deutsche Welle reports.
Activist Alena Popova argued that Russian law requires individual permission for collecting personal data, but the defense argued that she was not in fact identified at the sexual harassment protest she was fined for participating in, but was identified by police on the scene.
Popova had told DW that she hopes the case sparks public debate about facial recognition in Russia.
In response to questions from DW about the legality of the facial recognition system, a representative of Moscow’s IT department said the city has “the necessary legal basis for receiving and transferring video information, as well as storing and processing it and is carrying out these actions lawfully.”
DW also reports that an activist arrested shortly after the FIFA World Cup last year and arrested when no wrong-doing was found was told by police that deleting his image from a criminal database is “impossible.”
The court case was argued for Popova by digital rights NGO Roskomsvoboda, which says it hopes to take another facial recognition case to court this year.
Following an outcry in Taiwan’s legislature, the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) has reversed course on a plan to trial facial recognition as part of a smart surveillance system at Fengyuan Railway Station in Taichung, according to the Taipei Times.
The system was reportedly intended to ensure the safety of passengers in and around rail stations, by detecting intrusion into restricted areas and recognizing loitering people and suspicious packages.
Ko Chih-en, a legislator with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), noted that the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has criticized the use of facial recognition in human rights abuses by China, and asked if President Tsai Ing-wen and his administration are now following China’s lead to control the public.
“China has used surveillance devices to enforce a social credit rating system, while Hong Kong uses the devices to monitor pro-democracy protesters. Is it not strange that what DPP is planning to do is also what China is doing?” said KMT Legislator Jason Hsu. Hsu also pointed out that the Council of Grand Justices has interpreted Taiwan’s constitution as giving people the right not to be monitored in public places.
Singapore to verify hotel guests
A new E-Visitor Authentication (EVA) System leveraging facial recognition has been launched in Singapore to facilitate hotel check-ins and share identity data with the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) to verify that they are allowed to be there, the government has announced.
The system is one in a series of new by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and the Singapore Hotel Association (SHA) to foster business innovation among the country’s hotels. Eliminating manual checks of travel documents can save 70 percent of check-in time, according to the announcement.
IBM pitches “Precision Regulation”
Meanwhile, the latest tech giant to share its advice for governments is IBM, which has made its case for targeted regulation of facial recognition, arguing that blanket bans will eliminate potentially life-saving benefits of the technology just to deal with concerns about specific use cases.
In a blog post, IBM Chief Privacy Officer Christina Montgomery and IBM Policy Lab co-Director Ryan Hagemann set out face detection, facial authentication, and facial matching as three basic and distinct categories which are typically lumped together as “facial recognition.”
They suggest that in addition to taking these three categories and their significant differences into account, and regulation should address notice and consent, exports abroad, and law enforcement use of the technology.
“As lawmakers worldwide grapple with public debate over this technology, different jurisdictions will develop different approaches based on their laws and customs, but the idea of applying precision to balance benefits and risks can be universal,” the blog authors conclude.
“Policymakers should not wait to address public concerns over facial recognition. But calls for blanket bans are neither helpful nor practical. Why ban a technology that could save time, save money, or save lives? Government, industry and civil society groups must work together to move beyond lofty, hollow pronouncements, and focus on practical solutions to a very real-world problem. That’s a conversation IBM welcomes.”