Transparency About Use Of Photos For Facial Recognition Technology

So you thought facial recognition data only came from law enforcement records?

Why Can’t You Smile At The DMV? How Your Photo Is Used Without Your Knowledge

“So what is the truth to be found here about cars? If you drive one, chances are your face – and all the information attached to your driver’s license – is fair game for a technology that is new and not yet at the point where it can make perfect identity determinations. For some people this is totally unnerving. For others, it brings no discomfort. This information is not provided to tell you what to think about the issue, as reasonable minds can and do differ, but simply to make you aware that your license is not just a license to drive…in reality, in a majority of states, it is a license to allow law enforcement agencies to consider whether you are a suspect in a crime to which you have no connection, based solely on a mathematical interpretation of the structure of your face. A consideration which would never have occurred without your love and (probably actual, not simply transcendental) need for cars.”

While I don’t have a US driver’s license, I did recently renew my passport. The instructions for the photograph are especially picky. You must get the photo taken at an approved photo shop. It must be the correct dimensions, and show the correct portion of your face and neck. I was asked to take off the scarf around my neck. Oh, and you cannot smile.

These rules are not explained, but of course they strongly point to use of the photo in facial recognition systems. The article about use of driver’s license photos in Ohio came to me by Twitter, and I haven’t checked to see what is known about how US passport photos are used, but I would be surprised to learn that they weren’t being used for similar facial recognition systems. I don’t remember having been informed about how my photo would be used.

In an article from the Newark Advocate, an online poll shows that most respondents think that Ohioans should have been told before the system was launched.

Poll snap

Of course, such polls are not free from bias (or typos), but I think recent events show that people do want transparency about this sort of thing. I think that’s the only way we can make sure that there are appropriate checks and balances in place so that these kind of systems can’t easily be subverted or abused.

Further reading
Ohioans Not Told How License Photos Used

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One Response to Transparency About Use Of Photos For Facial Recognition Technology

  1. richfinck says:

    Not only this. In PA if you don’t drive you need a photo id. It is exactly like a drivers license, card type and photo. You get your photo of at the drivers license station. How about that? When I was there the lady ahead of me had to do the photo about four or five times. She asked pic taker why. She was told she wasn’t allowed to have a reflection on her glasses. She said she didn’t care about reflection. Finally the truth came out pic taker told her that your eyes had to be reflection free. Another oddity I noticed was an Amish man was ahead of me. Amish don’t drive. My conclusion was they want everyone in the facial database. Some of these old order people don’t even like their photo taken. Another problem I don’t like is that some businesses are photographing you when you are in their store. Big brother is going to get your face pic come hell or high water.

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