Face Recognition Systems Under Fire

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Face Recognition Systems Under Fire

Facial recognition technology has improved substantially in recent years, but now the manufacturers of such systems, including giant tech companies, are facing pushback by consumers and even their own employees. In fact, a majority does not feel comfortable with these authentication options, as a British study shows.

Only 31 percent of the Britons said they have no major concerns when they have to identify themselves with this through facial recognition, the study conducted by Specops Software found out in a survey. The discomfort only becomes even greater when the focus is on the own eye: an iris or retina scan is only weighted at eleven percent each. After all, 42 percent feel comfortable with the fingerprint comparison, and voice recognition even reaches 44 percent.
However, more traditional methods are clearly superior to biometric procedures in this respect. Hardly any fears are shown by 53 percent for signatures, 66 percent for SMS authentication, 72 percent for tokens and 78 percent for classic passwords. The security experts from Specops Software surveyed a total of 3,740 British citizens for these figures.

Face Recognition Systems Under Fire

Image: US Department of Defence

Meanwhile, major companies such as Amazon, Microsoft and IBM are either temporarily or completely discontinuing their cooperation with the US police in regard to facial technology. The companies and their systems have long been criticized for identifying the typical white males much more precisely than people of other skin colors or women. In the context of the current debate on racism, this seems even more explosive.
In a letter to the US Congress, IBM recently announced that it would no longer offer universal face recognition or analysis software. In its statement the company says it will not tolerate “the use of technologies for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violation of fundamental human rights and freedoms or for purposes that are not in line with its own values and principles of trust and transparency”.
According to media reports, both Amazon and Microsoft are currently actively lobbying to influence legislation in the United States for the use of face recognition in a less controversial. Currently, strict local rules in cities like San Francisco already prohibit the technology for all public buildings and services.

Author: Tim Cole
Image Credit: Pixabay

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