Greetings from Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
As I began writing this letter, I realized that not only would today have been my parents' 44th wedding anniversary, but it is also Loving Day. June 12 is the anniversary of the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Loving v. Virginia that ended the ban on interracial marriages, deeming them unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. You can learn more about Richard and Mildred Loving here.
It is an understatement to say that this has been a difficult couple of weeks. I have spent this time listening, reading and having numerous conversations with my children about what happened to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others before them.
Earlier this week, the IAPP issued a statement on racial injustice. IAPP President and CEO, J. Trevor Hughes wrote, “At the IAPP, we stand in solidarity with those who protest these senseless murders. We join the global voices condemning racism and violence. We share the feelings of grief and anger that so many are experiencing. We believe that Black lives matter.” You can read the full statement here.
Turning to privacy — facial recognition has also been a topic of conversation this week as several cities have used the technology as surveillance during protests, raising privacy red flags. And there have been ongoing concerns that there are racial and gender bias in the technology. In a piece for Medium, Algorithmic Justice League Founder Joy Buolamwini wrote, “Among the most concerning uses of facial analysis technology involve the bolstering of mass surveillance, the weaponization of AI, and harmful discrimination in law enforcement contexts.”
Big Tech is responding to the concerns: earlier this week, IBM announced it was ending its facial recognition offerings, Amazon instituted a one year suspension on its facial recognition software and Microsoft announced Thursday it would not sell its facial recognition software to law enforcement in the U.S. until there is a legislative response. “We will not sell facial-recognition technology to police departments in the United States until we have a national law in place, grounded in human rights, that will govern this technology,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said at a Washington Post Live event.
Last weekend, my family attended vigils for George Floyd in Portsmouth (while social distancing was tricky, almost everyone wore masks and there was plenty of hand sanitizer available). One of the things that caught our attention was the number of drones flying above the gatherings. I have to admit, the thought crossed my mind that they could have been police drones. Based on social media posts after the event, it seems that may have been the case. It was disconcerting that our movements were potentially being tracked, and I couldn’t help but wonder how the data was going to be used, who was going to review it, and how long it would be stored.
Stay safe out there.
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