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UK civil society considers which AI controversies we need, goes back to the LFR well

UK civil society considers which AI controversies we need, goes back to the LFR well
 

UK lawmakers have written Frasers Group, which owns several retail chains, to condemn its use of live facial recognition and call for it to stop using the technology, The Guardian reports.

The retail conglomerate which owns House of Fraser, Sports Direct, and Flannels has deployed biometric cameras from Facewatch to dozens of locations.

More than 40 Members of Parliament representing the nation’s three major political parties signed a letter to the retail group urging it to abandon technology they call “invasive and discriminatory,” and which “inverts the vital democratic principle of suspicion preceding surveillance and treats everyone who passes the camera like a potential criminal.” The letter was coordinated and co-signed by privacy advocacy groups Big Brother Watch, Liberty, and Privacy International.

Facewatch has been approved both by the Information Commissioner’s Office and to the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice this year. Neither is mentioned by the Guardian, but a warning about the potential harms of live facial recognition from the ICO is noted.

The controversy has a familiar ring, and occurs alongside a workshop held in the UK and asking how the controversies around AI can be shifted to the ones that society needs.

Facial recognition was the most frequently mentioned topic among concerns about AI explored in the recent ‘Shifting AI controversies’ workshop, hosted by Shaping AI, an international research project hosted by the University of Warwick.

Participants specifically noted concern with the use of facial recognition in public spaces like schools, streets, and public transportation.

A 2017 paper suggesting face biometrics can be used for more accurate analysis of individuals’ sexual orientation is identified as a major source of concerns.  The other concerns discussed relate to algorithmic discrimination, such as in systems used in U.S. courts, data sharing between the public sector and researchers, large language models and machine learning for artificial general intelligence.

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