(Lack of) privacy: Facial recognition technology has always been the source of much debate surrounding privacy in the digital era. While many companies and governments have embraced the tech for purposes like law enforcement or machine learning, some have begun to push back against it lately. Multiple cities have banned police departments from utilizing facial recognition tech, and now, the city of Los Angeles is following suit — sort of.
The law enforcement organization has allegedly been taking advantage of software provided by highly-controversial facial recognition tech company Clearview to track down criminals. According to a report from Buzzfeed News, over 25 LAPD employees performed nearly 475 searches as of “earlier this year,” so officers have certainly gotten a decent amount of use out of the tech.
The trouble with Clearview’s software, however, is that it uses images and content scraped from social media websites to build a database of faces that can be used by its clients. That’s where the controversy comes in — if given the choice to consent to this sort of scraping, we imagine most people would opt-out.
Being added to a database that can and will often be used by law enforcement with no warning is a frightening prospect. Artificial intelligence is capable of making mistakes, after all, as we saw recently when an AI-powered sports camera operator mistook a lineman’s bald head for a soccer ball.