Google's cloud business to stop selling general purpose facial-recognition tech

(Dec 14, 2018) Google announced its cloud business will not sell “general-purpose facial recognition APIs” until more questions about the technology are answered, Bloomberg reports. “Facial recognition merits careful consideration to ensure its use is aligned with our principles and values, and avoids abuse and harmful outcomes,” Google Head of Global Affairs Kent Walker wrote in a blog post. Walker did not specify the questions Google wants to be answered, nor whether customers such as law enforcement and the... Read More

Concerns around business use of facial recognition grows

(Dec 13, 2018) The Algorithmic Justice League and the Center of Privacy & Technology at Georgetown University Law Center released the Safe Face Pledge, a call for companies to no longer provide facial-recognition technology to law enforcement unless laws are passed to allow it, Bloomberg reports. The pledge asks for companies to “show value for human life, dignity and rights, address harmful bias, [and] facilitate transparency.” Large tech companies have not signed the pledge, potentially out of fear of lo... Read More

Rapid DNA network rollout raises privacy concerns

(Dec 13, 2018) The Washington Post reports on how a new portable machine is revolutionizing the way DNA samples are analyzed. Roughly the size of a large desktop printer, Rapid DNA can produce a profile of 20 specific loci on a DNA strand in less than two hours instead of days or weeks. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation launched an initiative to create a Rapid DNA network, connecting booking stations around the country so they can check arrestees against the FBI’s combined national DNA database, CODIS. ... Read More

Car rental introduces biometric verification to reduce wait time

(Dec 11, 2018) Rental car company Hertz announced it has partnered with biometric-screening kiosk maker Clear to speed up the rental process, The Associated Press reports. The first biometric-scan kiosk was introduced at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and will be rolled out to 40 other locations next year. Members of the Gold Plus Rewards program will be able to access a car once their face or fingerprint confirms reservation data, reducing the two-minute checkout process to 30 seconds. H... Read More

Lawsuit challenges California's collection of biometric data on arrestees

(Dec 11, 2018) Two organizations and one individual plaintiff filed a lawsuit against California for its collection and retention of genetic data on individuals who were arrested for a felony but never convicted of a crime. Represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as well as the Law Office of Michael T. Risher, the plaintiffs argue that the state’s collection practices violate the privacy protections of innocent individuals under the state’s constitution. Center for Genetics and Society Executive Dir... Read More

Microsoft's Smith calls for governments, tech companies to address facial recognition

(Dec 7, 2018) Microsoft President Brad Smith writes in a blog post about why the time has arrived to address concerns with facial-recognition technology. Smith believes it is important for governments to adopt laws to regulate facial recognition soon before any problems associated with the technology become too difficult to control. Those issues include the use of facial recognition for surveillance purposes and limiting biased outcomes from its use. “We also believe that while it’s better to address these is... Read More

European countries agree to share forensic data to aid law enforcement

(Dec 6, 2018) The information within Ireland’s national DNA Database System will be shared with other European countries in order to assist in law enforcement investigations, reports. The European Council approved the agreement between the EU member states, Iceland and Norway. The countries will share forensic data with one another to combat crime. Minister Charles Flanagan said the agreement will be useful in the prevention of terrorist activities; however, a balance is needed to ensure citizen... Read More

Facial-recognition surveillance to be tested at White House

(Dec 5, 2018) The American Civil Liberties Union published plans from the U.S. Secret Service to pilot facial-recognition surveillance at the White House to identify “subjects of interest,” The Verge reports. While the report states it is unknown if the test is currently active, it was scheduled to begin Nov. 19 and run until Aug. 30, 2019. The plan notes that while it is running, footage with facial match will be saved, confirmed by evaluators, and “eventually deleted.” A spokesperson said, “For operational ... Read More

Amazon pressed for answers about Rekognition platform

(Dec 4, 2018) House Democrats sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in which they demanded details about the company’s facial-recognition platform, Rekognition, BuzzFeed News reports. In the letter, the seven lawmakers write that despite two previous requests for information, Amazon has “failed to provide sufficient answers.” Requesting a response by Dec. 13, the letter adds that the lawmakers have “serious concerns that this type of product has significant accuracy issues, places disproportionate burdens on... Read More

Delta installs facial-recognition cameras in Atlanta airport

(Dec 3, 2018) Delta Air Lines has installed facial-recognition cameras at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The cameras are used to scan the faces of anyone who travels on an international flight rather than a check of their passport. The airline wants to eventually use the technology for domestic flights. CNN reports the program is optional, and any traveler who does not wish to use the system can go through traditional ID verificiation. Privacy a... Read More