Home > Essays > Can We Just Say No to Facial Recognition Software… or Has That Train Left the Station?

Can We Just Say No to Facial Recognition Software… or Has That Train Left the Station?

April 15, 2021

Common Dreams staffer Jake Johnson posted an article yesterday titled “Too Dangerous To Exist” which describes the recommendation of a coalition of privacy rights advocates who want to stop the development of facial recognition software on the grounds that it is far too invasive of privacy and, in the wrong hands, could lead to horrific consequences. Lest anyone believe that the collection and use of biometric data could have chilling consequences, one only needs to look at how that data is being collected and used now in the private sector. Mr.
Johnson cites a letter written by 20 privacy rights organizations:

“In a world where private companies are already collecting our data, analyzing it, and using it to manipulate us to make a profit, we can’t afford to naively believe that private entities can be trusted with our biometric information,” the letter reads. “We call on all local, state, and federal elected officials, as well as corporate leaders, to ban the use of facial recognition surveillance by private entities.”

The groups cite several examples of corporations using facial recognition in ways that threaten workers’ rights, including Amazon’s requirement that delivery drivers consent to allowing the company’s artificial intelligence-equipped cameras to collect their biometric data and surveil their activity on the job. The coalition also points to Apple’s facial recognition scans of its factory employees.

“These cases clearly show how private use of facial recognition by corporations, institutions, and even individuals poses just as much of a threat to marginalized communities as government use,” the letter reads. “Corporations are already using facial recognition on workers in hiring, to replace traditional timecards, and to monitorworkers’ movements and ‘productivity’—all of which particularly harm frontline workers and make them susceptible to harassment, exploitation, and put their personal information at risk.”

I am writing this post on my MacBook Air which now opens when I press my index finger though if I were more competent at typing with my thumbs I could have used my iPhone which opens when I look at it and can be found by asking my robotic friend Siri to help me find it. These examples of biometrics are all “time saving” in the cyberworld time frames we are now accustomed to. I mean who wants to log onto a laptop or iPhone using keystrokes when a touch of the finger or glance will accomplish the same thing.

The letter, which can be found in the post, references misuse and abuse of biometric data in the corporate, medical, and law enforcement fields but makes no mention of the data collected involuntarily by schools…. data that has the same far reaching impact on the well-being of students as it has on the well-being of adults and employees. And what makes it even worse is that, as noted in an earlier post, the schools who serve children raised in poverty and children of color are far more likely to have cameras collecting this data than schools serving affluent children.

Here’s hoping that the genie is not already out of the bottle on this issue!

Categories: Essays Tags: ,
%d bloggers like this: