Biometrics: Why or Why not?

Facial recognition and biometrics:Why are so many saying no

· facial recognition,privid,privacy,europe,biometrics

Two sides to every coin...

Many countries in the EU are saying no to facial recognition in public spaces and in general:

A report released by the European Parliament (EP) on Wednesday calls for a new legal framework for the development and employment of artificial intelligence and surveillance-related face biometric applications, with definitions and ethical principles.

The report, which passed with 364 votes in [sic] favor , 274 against, 52 abstentions, calls for the establishment of an EU legal framework ensuring AI and related technologies to be developed in a [sic] human-centered way.

The document is divided into three main topics, respectively military use and human oversight, AI in the public sector, and mass surveillance and deepfakes.

“Faced with the multiple challenges posed by the development of AI, we need legal responses,” explained MEP Gilles Lebreton from the EP Identity and Democracy Group.

The section of the report on state authority “Invites the Commission to assess the consequences of a moratorium on the use of facial recognition systems, and, depending on the results of this assessment, to consider a moratorium on the use of these systems in public spaces by public authorities and in premises meant for education and healthcare, as well as on the use of facial recognition systems by law enforcement authorities in semi-public spaces such as airports, until the technical standards can be considered fully fundamental rights-compliant, the results derived are non-biased and non-discriminatory, and there are strict safeguards against misuse that ensure the necessity and proportionality of using such technologies.”

The first section of the report relates to the fact that human dignity and human rights should always be respected in all EU defense-related activities, particularly in regard to lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS), which the EP had condemned back in 2018.

Commonly called “killer robots,” these machines use deep neural network-powered algorithms to perform face recognition on their target, then fire without the need for human intervention.

The new guidelines aim at changing that by introducing a further element of human control based on principles of proportionality and necessity.

The issue at hand is the general bias that seems to be inbuilt within the facial recognition technology. It handles caucasian features very well, but the further a person is in skin colour / tone from white, the more difficult it is for the facial recognition system to detect feature. This means that there is a bias within the system that must be eliminated. This part of the FairFace challenge. The goal is to create a system with 99.9% accuracy, regardless of skin tone / colour.

One of the other potential issues is a thing referred to as 'liveness'. In other words, helping a facial recognition system understand the difference between a statue and a living person. More importantly, many people, when questioned, do not see a real benefit to facial recognition and view it as a real threat to their privacy.

Is there a benefit to any biometric identification? According to the general public, in so far as wide-spread use, there is not. However, in specific circumstances, there seem to be valid arguments for the use of biometrics, including facial recognition.

[...]Biometrics includes physical or behavioural human characteristics such as fingerprints, facial patterns, voice or signature, which are unique to individuals. They can be used digitally to identify and allow people access to countries, buildings, systems and devices.

For people who struggle to remember passwords or have certain physical disabilities, biometrics can simplify life. They are being used in a growing number of applications and offer contactless solutions, which are helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.[...] - by Antoinette Price, Co-editor of IEC e-tech magazine

There are many examples of biometrics being used successfully at airports and border control systems, where facial recognition scans identify nationals and allow individuals to leave one country and enter another. This technology can also be used to open doors and give approved users access to high-level security areas. In [smart]homes, voice recognition can be used to control heating, lighting and entertainment systems, and many of us use it to do rapid information searches. Fingerprints and facial recognition, offer a quick way to open various mobile platforms.

Though biometric characteristics are harder to replicate, there are some security concerns surrounding systems that use them. One of the challenges with biometric systems capture devices is that if someone wants to breech them, there is no knowledge required of the internal operating system.

Specifically, they have questions with regards to the benefits and efficacy of 'face-based profiling'. The council would like to have much stricter guidelines on facial recognition and its uses. Some of the guidelines include: skin colour, sex, age, and health of individuals.

While those guidelines would allow the (heavily regulated) use of facial recognition in some situations, the Council recommends that other applications should be banned entirely. Most notably, the organization wants to prohibit the use of facial recognition systems that exist solely to identify members of certain demographic groups. For example, governments would not be allowed to use face tech to watch for people of a particular skin color, [sic] or to track members of specific religious groups.

“At its best, facial recognition can be convenient, helping us navigate obstacles in our everyday lives. At its worst, it threatens our essential human rights, empowering state authorities and others to monitor and control important aspects of our lives – often without our knowledge or consent,” said Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić. “These guidelines ensure the protection of people’s personal dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the security of their personal data.”

Facial Recognition and Arrests

There are many questions in how the facial recognition data can and should be used. Specifically, should it be the primary means of identification, or should it be a tool to investigate further. This is all part of the issues that concern many of the guidelines that the EU is putting forward. It recognizes that systems are flawed. There are also many cities within the US that are considering banning facial recognition technology. Once again, they are doing so to mitigate the issue of false arrests.

How do we help? Technology, like many things, can be used for many purposes. Both good and bad. Our technology uses what is called Zero-Knowledge Proof [ZKP]. It allows for anonymization of personal data, while maintaining its accuracy and confirming its authenticity. If you have any questions on how we can help please contact us to discuss.

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