Tuesday was supposed to be a victory for privacy advocates, according tomedia. Washington state signed SB 6280, making it the first state in the United States to pass a facial recognition bill that outlines how the government uses and cannot use the technology. A closer look, however, reveals the bill’s flaws.
The law has done little to limit the government’s use of facial recognition, and instead it has established basic transparency and accountability mechanisms for governmentdecisions to deploy dystopian real-time surveillance.
The act has little impact on the commercial development or sale of facial recognition technology. The bill does not limit sales to law enforcement or even hold companies accountable for the results of their algorithms.
The bill was sponsored by state Sen. Joe Nguyen, who is currently a project manager for Microsoft. So it’s no surprise to learn that the bill has public and private support from Microsoft.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Washington has strongly rejected the law, which will take effect in July, saying that nothing but a facial recognition ban does not guarantee civil liberties.
But transparency and accountability measures are better than none. The new law requires state and local government agencies to remind the public what facial recognition algorithms they are buying and to provide adequate training to staff to use the technology. Companies that sell the technology to the government now need to independently test their algorithms. State or district attorneys who rely on facial recognition technology must inform the accused before trial.
In terms of real-time surveillance, the new law requires that police in “emergency” situations now be authorized, which would give real-time facial recognition the ability in the state legislature.
According to OneZero, Wolfcom, which is testing real-time facial recognition in police body cameras, recently spoke with government technology about its new technology.
“People are always afraid of new things, but nothing can stop technology. We can ignore it and let others develop it, or we can understand its existence… and strive to steer it toward the power of good,” said Peter Onruang, CEO of Wolfcom.
Onruang points out that concerns about continued police surveillance are exaggerated. “I know there are people who are worried about people being shot for facial recognition. That’s not what it was designed for… It’s just to help the police realize that it’s possible (they’re interacting with wanted or missing people). “
Fortunately, no technology is currently used for any other purpose other than the designed use.