NY, UK politicians demand reform of biometric facial recognition use in law enforcement
The Security Industry Association (SIA), which includes biometric technology developers NEC, Clearview AI, Idemia and Ayonix corp. among others, has announced the official release of its ten-point framework on the benefits of facial recognition based on specific ethical principles, but warning against a “one-size-fits-all legislative framework.”
In addition to law enforcement agencies, the organization’s set of ‘Principles for the Responsible and Effective Use of Facial Recognition Technology’ is intended to guide both private and public-sector applications of facial biometrics.
SIA advocates for the purchase of accurate facial recognition technology to avoid any type of discrimination. Law enforcement should only rely on it if there is a “legitimate law enforcement purpose,” says the organization, while legislation should target case-specific cases.
“If there’s concern of a potential use that is negative, you need to structure restrictions or regulations around that particular concern,” said Jake Parker, SIA’s head of government affairs, in an interview with Bloomberg News.
NYPD facial recognition blunder draws criticism, reassessment
New York City Mayor Bill de Blaiso says standards for the use of biometric facial recognition technology need to be reassessed after the NYPD used biometric facial recognition to identify a Black Lives Matter protest leader who allegedly used a bullhorn in an officer’s ear, Engadget writes.
During a press conference, de Blasio said “there is a place for facial recognition but with really clear checks and balances.”
The mayor also said facial recognition should not be used to surveil protestors, and though the individual identified is accused of a crime, the use of facial recognition should have been approved by NYPD leadership, but was not.
A number of cities around the country are debating whether to allow limited use or ban the technology altogether, after Boston, Cambridge and Sommerville, Massachusetts, San Francisco, and Oakland have already banned it from use by law enforcement.
Meanwhile, according to Vice, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) has used facial recognition and substandard images from CCTV cameras to make arrests, which may ultimately lead to suspect misidentification due to the poor image quality. In 2019, the force used a system developed by Vigilant Solutions to run 924 facial recognition searches. Vigilant Solutions, which was acquired by Motorola Solutions, provides license plate reading technology used by federal agencies.
Politicians complain about facial recognition use in UK law enforcement
On the other side of the pond, the UK Court of Appeal ruled last week that the use of live biometric facial recognition for automatic public identification by South Wales Police was unlawful.
London Assembly members are now urging Metropolitan Police to reassess its use because “it infringes the privacy rights of innocent people, and could be biased,” This Is Local London reports. Met Police has already used the technology to scan shoppers on Oxford Street. Both law enforcement departments deployed NeoFace Watch, developed by NEC.
“While it is true that the ruling relates to specific uses of live facial recognition technology by South Wales Police, the Met needs to face up to the fact that they have relied on previous judgements in this case when designing and justifying their use of the technology to date,” said Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon in a statement. “Without any clear legal framework in place governing the technology, I still firmly believe that its use should be paused.”
Together with Green Assembly member Sian Berry, Pidgeon asked Police Commissioner Cressida Dick for clarifications on the use of the technology. Met Intelligence Director Lindsey Chiswick does not exclude the use in cases with “a clear, lawful basis,” which has drawn even more criticism from the politicians.
“The Metropolitan Police Service has been clear that our deployments are intelligence-led, and focused on helping tackle serious crime, including serious violence, gun and knife crime, child sexual exploitation and helping protect the vulnerable,” a Met spokesperson told the publication. “We communicate about each deployment in advance of, during and afterwards to ensure awareness and transparency, we use the latest very accurate algorithm, and we have our own bespoke and carefully considered policy documents.”