Facial Recognition technology in the line of fire over inaccuracies

Following the US incident, several technology majors have voluntarily imposed a ban on its use by the police forces
Facial recognition, once considered a revolutionary technology, is now facing intense scrutiny after inaccuracies were reported when the police in the US used it to track down people who participated in the recent protests following the killing of George Flyod, a Black American. Despite having many positive applications, facial-recognition technology has been criticised for some time now on the allegation of potential bias, with some reports saying that the algorithms used in the technology identify the wrong persons as violators. Such instances are more likely in the case of Blacks compared to the Whites. Following the US incident, several technology majors have voluntarily imposed a ban on its use by the police forces.

IBM: The tech giant will no longer offer its facial recognition technology to police departments for mass surveillance and racial profiling. In a letter to the US Congress, CEO Arvind Krishna said that the technology "violates basic human rights and freedoms", and is inconsistent with the 109-year old company’s policy.

Amazon: Following IBM, Amazon, too, announced a one-year moratorium on the use of its facial recognition software Rekognition by the police. Rekognition can use Artificial Intelligence to quickly compare a picture from procured from anywhere and try to match it police databases. Amazon has urged governments to put in place stronger regulations to govern the ethical use the technology.

Microsoft: The company’s president Brad Smith, in a newspaper interview, said Microsoft has been taking a “principled stand” on the proper use  of the tech and will not be selling the tool to the police until there are changes in the national law


Positive use cases of facial recognition technology

Law enforcement

  • Issuing identity documents; prevention of ID fraud and identity theft by combining it with other biometric technologies such as fingerprints 
  • Face match at border checks to compare the portrait on a digitised biometric passport with the holder's face

Tracking missing children/persons 

  • One can add a reference photo provided by the missing child’s parents and match it with past appearances of that face captured on video 
  • The same process can be applied for disoriented missing adults (suffering from dementia, amnesia or Alzheimer's)


Helps in tracking a patient's use of medication more accurately and detect genetic diseases 

India will have the world's largest Automated Facial Recognition System, according to Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy’s speech in Parliament in March. The purchase and installation will be handled by the National Crime Records Bureau and monitored from its headquarters in New Delhi

Compiled by Sai Ishwar Source: Trisec Research report

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