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Hoping for better laws, a facial recognition primer for Congress is published

Hoping for better laws, a facial recognition primer for Congress is published

Assuming that informed electors make the best decisions, a major R&D nonprofit has published a crash course on face biometrics, putting the technology into context for federal policy makers.

Among all the uncertainties of facial recognition, two points are known for sure. Washington is far behind the times when it comes to the aggressively growing technology. And legislators will only see more critical biometric issues that require policy decisions.

So, the non-profit R&D organization, The Mitre Corp., has published a reference for lawmakers that starts with basic fundamentals. For instance, face recognition and facial recognition are the same, and identification and verification are not.

Yet, in short order, it is making finer, useful distinctions, such as the difference between facial recognition and facial analytics. And before it is done, the document brings the reader to concerns raised by the technology, including its implications for civil liberties, privacy and ethical appropriateness.

The explainer follows a report from Mitre in August that identified a “face recognition literacy gap” as an impediment to productive social and policy dialogue.

Authors of the explainer state upfront that it is not a policy paper itself. It is designed to steer away from conclusions about the virtues or perils of facial recognition, nor does it advocate for specific uses.

Almost anyone with strategic oversight over research, development and operation of these biometrics systems will be familiar with the sprawling ground covered in the document. It might still bear reading by insiders, however, to better understand how lawmakers are coming to see facial recognition.

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