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United States Privacy Digest | Notes from the IAPP, Feb. 28, 2020 Related reading: Global News Roundup: March 30–April 6, 2020

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Greetings from Portsmouth, New Hampshire!

My parents recently gifted me their old record player, and I have to say it is a very enjoyable alternative to the digital way we consume music today. There’s something captivating about listening to a record in its entirely and hearing how each track fits in the sequence in a world where literally every single song is at our fingertips. Plus, the artwork almost always rules. I don’t expect other forms of physical media to experience a similar revival to vinyl. I know I have absolutely no interest in rewinding crusty old VHS tapes. I’ve also been told cassette tapes are cool now. I refuse to believe this is true.

Anyway, before you write me off as an insufferable hipster, let’s turn to the world of privacy.

There’s no denying that artificial intelligence and facial recognition are here to stay. Some believe they can serve a great benefit, while others have raised privacy concerns about how the technology can be misused. It’s not dissimilar to other emerging technologies that have appeared in the past. As facial recognition and AI develop, work has commenced to try and tackle these issues head-on.

The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy’s first report on AI has shown to be such an example. The report highlights the progress of the American AI Initiative, which launched last year. The 36-page document mentions “privacy” 18 times and the “safe development” and “responsible approach” that must be considered when AI is used.

Should trends continue the way they have been going, a “responsible approach” may become less of a recommendation and more of a necessity. In a recent report, Gartner estimates 40% of privacy technology will rely on AI by 2023. Given the rate the privacy technology market has grown over the years, 40% will probably be a rather large number.

In the world of facial recognition, Clearview AI announced an intruder stole its entire client list. Clearview’s clients mostly consist of law enforcement agencies. It also has a database of 3 billion photos it collected from all over the internet. The controversial company has constantly been in the news since The New York Times posted its original report on its practices last month, and this latest development will only result in more questions and criticisms and add more fuel to the fire to those who have been calling for legislation to address the technology.

The debate around facial recognition shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. In a report from The Wall Street Journal, New York University AI Now Institute Co-Founder Meredith Whittaker supported a U.S. moratorium on the technology. Information Technology and Innovation Foundation Vice President Daniel Castro, however, offered a counterpoint, writing that a ban is not necessary given that “most common facial-recognition applications are benign.”

Don’t think these issues are just limited to the U.S. either. The European Commission released its “White Paper on Artificial Intelligence” and European Data Strategy last week. The EU is wrestling with the development of AI and a possible ban of facial recognition of its own.

As scrutiny around AI and facial recognition continues to grow, privacy professionals will have a lot of to consider should their organization decide to bring the technologies into the fold.

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