' Julia Deng | MTTLR

Caught in a Media and Legal Firestorm: The Inevitable Regulation of Facial Recognition Technology

Facial recognition technology continues to experience an onslaught of complications and backlash.   In February, Clearview AI, Inc., a facial recognition software company, experienced a data breach. The stolen data included its entire customer list, the number of searches made by each customer, and the number of accounts set up by each customer. Clearview’s customers mostly consist of law enforcement agencies. Critics, such as U.S. Senators Ed Markey and Ron Wyden, see this as yet another indication of the drawbacks of Clearview’s facial recognition technology greatly outweighing any potential benefits, and further reason to impose legislation regulating the use of such technology. Numerous critics have accused the company of violating consumer privacy policies of the web sites it scrapes. Clearview currently houses a database of over three billion photographs from various social media platforms, and although the Clearview breach did not access this data, major players in the tech industry have previously voiced concerns regarding its disregard for consumer privacy by issuing cease-and-desist letters to have Clearview remove their images.   In addition to the Commercial Facial Recognition Privacy Act of 2019, U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Cory Booker have introduced a Senate bill, the Ethical Use of Facial Recognition Act, to create a moratorium on the government’s use of facial recognition technology until a Congressional commission passes further regulations. Merkley worries this technology will create a dystopian “police state that tracks us everywhere we go.” Booker also challenged the technology’s tendency to misidentify and disproportionately target women and minorities. The bill still allows law enforcement to use facial recognition technology, but it places the ultimate authority over whether...