Facial recognition technology has become the epicentre for outrage among people due to privacy concerns. While some governments consider it as a threat to civilian rights, others justify the deployment of facial recognition technologies to tackle crimes. Deemed as a surveillance tool, the European Union is considering a five-year ban on the implementation of facial recognition to avoid use in public areas like streets, railway stations, and more.
However, countries such as India and China are actively embracing facial recognition technology. While India’s home ministry announced its intention to install the world’s largest automated facial recognition software (AFRS), China is using it to monitor activities in public areas. As per research, facial recognition technology is expected to grow and reach $9.6 billion by 2020.
Why Facial Recognition Is On The Spotlight Again
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet, in at least more than one conference supported the potential temporary ban on facial recognition by the EU. “I think it is important that governments and regulations tackle it sooner rather than later and give a framework for it,” said Pichai. However, Brad Smith, chief legal officer of Microsoft, had a different opinion when asked about the EU’s move. He said its a young technology and will only get better. But it will only improve if we have more people using it.
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Amidst several concerns of facial recognition technology, the adoption has only grown across the world. More recently, London’s police on Friday announced that it would be deploying facial recognition to pinpoint crimes. The Metropolitan Police said that technology is crucial for identifying and acting on crimes and violence. Earlier the London police used to match the images with databases to determine suspects; however, with the new announcement, they will now automate the process with real-time detection.
Rise In The Adoption Of Facial Recognition Technology
Similar to the London police, the New York Police Department uses the image matching technique. According to a report, more than 600 law enforcement agencies have been leveraging facial recognition. In 2019, Kenya also announced the need for surveillance to enhance security, which led them to use facial recognition tech from Chinese firms.
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Although China is considered a significant driver of surveillance, other countries such as Japan, France, and the US, are a substantial contributor to the supply of surveillance technology. According to a report, US tech firms supply surveillance technology to thirty-two countries.
Contrary to the narrative of people, facial recognition technology has helped countries to maintain law and order. For one, Wales’ police got hold of 58 wanted people using facial recognition technology. Besides, in 2019 it was used in public places like Airports in India to expedite the security check and eliminate the need for paper-based boarding passes. Further, the use of facial authentication for new mobile users will restrict the misuse of services.
Facial recognition technology has various shortcomings which invoke concerns about its adoption. Some of the most notable ones are of being biased, a threat to privacy, and miss identifying people, to name a few. On numerous occasions, the technology has failed to work, thereby drawing the attention of people about its effectiveness.
However, like any other, it is prone to various flaws, but this doesn’t mean we should ban it. Today, we embrace machine learning models in several use cases even though they are not cent per cent accurate. Similarly, a shortcoming shouldn’t be the reason for squashing the advantages that we can harness from the technology.
Undoubtedly, there is a need for regulation, but temporarily banning it for analysing its potential misuse can slacken the development of the technology. Consequently, we should embrace facial recognition and continue to improve it as we move forward.