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Al Franken Calls for Tight Rules on Facial Recognition Software

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the let's-ask-binney-about-this dept.

Privacy 158

angry tapir writes "The U.S. Congress may need to pass legislation that limits the way government agencies and private companies use facial recognition technology to identify people, according to U.S. Senator Al Franken, who chairs the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee's privacy subcommittee. The growing use of facial recognition technology raises serious privacy and civil liberties concerns, according to the senator, who has called on the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and Facebook to change the way they use facial recognition technology." Derrick Harris of GigaOM says "My gut instinct is to call Senator Al Franken a well-meaning fool when it comes to his latest outcry," but concedes that in this case "he actually has a point." Harris writes in an editorial that "If you've heard about Alessandro Acquisti's work with the technology, you know why this possibility should be a little scary. Snap a photo of someone with a smartphone, analyze an image against a database of social media or Flickr pics and, voila, you have a name. From there, it's easy to get someone's age, hometown, interests, news coverage, you name it." Related: judgecorp writes "YouTube has added a tool which automatically detects and anonymises faces in uploaded videos. YouTube parent Google says it is intended to allow dissidents in places like Syria to share videos without risking reprisals form the government — but it warned that this is not an exact science, so users should check videos through before making them public."

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Right, so (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40698993)

Derrick Harris of GigaOM says "My gut instinct is to call Senator Al Franken a well-meaning fool when it comes to his latest outcry," but concedes that in this case "he actually has a point."

Translation: He's a dildo, but he's a liberal dildo, which means he's on our side, so I'll cut him some slack. (Imagine if anyone else had said that.)

Re:Right, so (1, Troll)

durrr (1316311) | about 2 years ago | (#40699233)

AL Franken doesn't want to be snapped by an intelligent cam when he's blowing taxpayer funded coke from taxpayed prostitutes.

It's pretty much the only reason why a politician would not celebrate and approve of 1984 tech

Re:Right, so (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40699805)

Derrick Harris of GigaOM says "My gut instinct is to call Senator Al Franken a well-meaning fool when it comes to his latest outcry," but concedes that in this case "he actually has a point."

It's unusual that Franken is either well meaning or that he has a point, let alone both at the same time.

The REAL reason (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40701045)

Seriously now, this doesn't surprise me. Al is against anything that might reduce his constituents who vote illegally and reduce votes for him. This is a known problem of democrats; they stand to gain the most from illegal voting and that's the reason why they are all so incredibly desperate to strike down voter ID and any other means (face recog?) that could be used to strengthen voting integrity.

F grade for Al! Bad Al, bad!!! Resign now before you embarrass yourself and let down your state any more than you already have.

Papers Please (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40699013)

Facial Recognition Software is great because if you leave your "papers" at home they will still be able to identify you.

In addition, they will also have access to your: personality profile, criminal records, court records, land records, birth certificate, marriage certificate, political contributions, address, phone number, date of birth, and embarrassing photos of you drunk in college.

Re:Papers Please (1)

Bigby (659157) | about 2 years ago | (#40699135)

I guess the concern is that they can instantly identify your religion. And people fear ethnic/religious/racial cleansing by the government.

Re:Papers Please (4, Funny)

Rei (128717) | about 2 years ago | (#40699761)

and embarrassing photos of you drunk in college.

Meanwhile, In The Future: "I'm sorry, Mr. Davis, but without a picture of you passed out half-naked on a couch while your friends do Jell-O shots off your chest, I can't open this bank account for you."

Yeah Legislation is the answer (1)

DeTech (2589785) | about 2 years ago | (#40699015)

Let's legislation facial recognition technology, ie. you can't tell your friend if you recognize someone. Brilliant.

More over don't you guys have something else you need to be doing?

Yeah, another Slash***'s Platitudes is the answer (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40699111)

Yeah, another tired repetition of the don't give me no more regulations platitude. Maybe there's a point in it. But there's also a point that every penny you save is as good as earning one...but let's not go around repeating that platitude any more like its an insight, okay?

Re:Yeah, another Slash***'s Platitudes is the answ (2)

Genda (560240) | about 2 years ago | (#40700793)

You know you're absolutely right... its not like there are any guys out there stalking women, or that someone fresh out on parole for rape charge wouldn't want to be able to find out where that pretty girl he just got a shot of on his cell phone lives. Please engage your brain before opening your mouth. Just because you don't care if everyone on the planet knows where you live and what you do, doesn't mean that we shouldn't be protecting people's privacy for a whole host of good reasons. Most of all, the government, shouldn't be able to surveille you at a whim. The one place where regulations are a damn good thing... regulations on government power. So I tend to agree... Senator Frankin has a point whether your fer'im or agin'im.

Re:Yeah Legislation is the answer (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40699185)

More over don't you guys have something else you need to be doing?

Like writing an app that takes a pic as input, loopks up the relevant data and produces a tailored pickup line + instructions on how to convincingly fake 'common' interests ;)

Re:Yeah Legislation is the answer (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#40699409)

You do realize that this is about federal agencies, right? You know that the reason the cops cannot just commandeer your house is because of a law passed by Congress.

Re:Yeah Legislation is the answer (1)

DeTech (2589785) | about 2 years ago | (#40699683)

Conflating property seizure with Face rec...

Might as well through in rape and murder too.

Re:Yeah Legislation is the answer (3, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#40700069)

Actually I was conflating quartering soldiers with facial recognition. My point was that it is not as though the law is irrelevant when it comes to how the government behaves or how our rights are protected. We do not just reach for our guns whenever there is a new threat to our rights; we pass laws to protect those rights in a changing world.

To put it another way, how else do you expect to prevent the police from using facial recognition systems to further expand their power? We are not going to walk around wearing masks, nor are we going to wear high intensity IR LEDs on our foreheads. Either we need to vote to stop the use of such systems without a warrant, or we need to accept that our rights will be eroded by new technology.

Re:Yeah Legislation is the answer (1)

DeTech (2589785) | about 2 years ago | (#40700707)

Framing your comment in that light, I have to say I completely agree with you. The problem with privacy topics like this is that it tends to churn up the Luddites. If we can clearly identify ways in which a technology shouldn't be used then by all means let's discuss regulation.

But I don't recall seeing a right not to be seen in a public place anywhere in the bill of rights.

Re:Yeah Legislation is the answer (4, Insightful)

DrgnDancer (137700) | about 2 years ago | (#40700387)

Way to miss the point. He's saying that a libertarian should, logically, be in favor of a law that sets limits on government power. Much as the 4th Amendment (a law) prevents the government from turning your house into a barracks. As generally libertarian as this site is, I'm amazed that I haven't seen a single positive comment on this idea yet. Surely, whatever your opinion on Franken, the idea that the there should be limits on government use and abuse of facial recognition software is a win for both privacy and liberty. So far the comment all seem to lean toward "Al Franken is a liberal idiot so his idea much be awful no matter how much I might applaud if Ron Paul had said it".

Re:Yeah Legislation is the answer (2)

uniquename72 (1169497) | about 2 years ago | (#40699689)

You do realize that this is about federal agencies, right? You know that the reason the cops cannot just commandeer your house is because of a law passed by Congress.

No, that's in the Constitution. Congress has the power to GIVE cops that right, but have chosen not to do so yet.

Re:Yeah Legislation is the answer (2)

DarkOx (621550) | about 2 years ago | (#40699755)

Congress has the power to GIVE cops that right

No it most certainly does not have the power to do that. Not by any sane reading of the 4th, 9th, and 10th amendments it does not. Don't even suggest those guys have that kind of power, because that just makes them think they do, and we have a lousy SCOTUS bench right now that will knuckle under and go along with it.

Re:Yeah Legislation is the answer (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#40700019)

The constitution is law -- it is the law that governs the government, and it both requires that the government do things and restricts how what the government can do. Congress voted on the bill of rights at the beginning of this nation, and they have voted on changes to the constitution several times since then (in the form of amendments).

Re:Yeah Legislation is the answer (1)

saveferrousoxide (2566033) | about 2 years ago | (#40700021)

Actually, I always thought that was the Third Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law./quote>

Re:Yeah Legislation is the answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700809)

You're a fucking moron.

And this is bad why.... (1)

Pecisk (688001) | about 2 years ago | (#40699023)

Ok, let's first get loose of 'omg we are loosing privacy here' attitude and analyze this a bit. First of all, private entities can take video of me in their security cameras. What's difference after this is how they analyze that collected data? What I *need* to know is that companies do that, so I can decide in a case of unusual situation would I render their services or not.

Government policy is totally different matter and should be crafted into internal documents and practices, not laws. I don't want cops to be pushed to understand that face recognition or video surveillance isn't panacea to everything, I want them to *understand* it themselves.

So in nutshell it is a old buzz about video surveillance. I'm not standing for or against it, but just against rehashing same old arguments over something new we can do with this surveillance material.

So, no law is needed (and less hysteria please) - just more common sense. Ohhh, this is media. Forget about that, crack on panicking.

Re:And this is bad why.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40699431)

This is bad because he's outlawing it for use by private corporations, but the federal government doing it for any old arbitrary reason, that's just hunky dory.

Which is what we like to call, 'a double standard'.

Re:And this is bad why.... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40699635)

He grills the FBI for it, too. This was part of the House Judiciary Committee, after all.

That part didn't make it into title, though, only the summary, so I understand your confusion. It's very difficult to read the article before commenting, and I guess now it's difficult to read the summary.

Re:And this is bad why.... (2)

RicktheBrick (588466) | about 2 years ago | (#40699941)

A voting district has a history of supporting a particular party. A rich organization sets up a camera outside the voting building and lets it be known that if anyone votes they will pay for it. Therefore the party that would have gained a number of votes from that district in fact does not. With elections being so close today an election could be won or lost with this technology.

Re:And this is bad why.... (1)

sycodon (149926) | about 2 years ago | (#40700289)

The bottom line is if you don't want to be seen and recognized somewhere...don't go there.

Re:And this is bad why.... (3, Insightful)

EdIII (1114411) | about 2 years ago | (#40700905)

That line of reasoning applies to private property.

Public property is a different matter, and government should always be treated differently when it comes to the acquisition and use of information. They have considerably more power than the average person on FaceStupid. It's a rather basic principle in Game Theory.

If you allow the government to have ubiquitous surveillance in all public areas you have are preventing anybody from exercising their right to simply not be there. Staying inside your house all the time, without considerable subsidies from Mommy(tm), is not possible for a normal person.

While I cannot stop my friends from putting up pictures with me in it on FaceStupid, and allowing FaceStupid to figure out who I am and then attempt to use that in marketing tactics, I can ask for laws to prevent the government from accessing or using that information.

Which, by the way, would be extremely prudent. I don't know where you live, but there are plenty of places on this planet where you can be harmed or killed simply because of your beliefs and associations. The best way to prevent that in a so-called advanced society is to have laws and practices which prevent any powerful group from obtaining tools that can be used against the populace in such ways. That is not paranoia either, contrary to the popular claims that it is. There is nothing irrational or delusional about simply remembering history, and even now, just being aware of current events.

While we are at it, I would *love* a law that prevents FaceStupid from using in any way any data obtained from facial recognition if they don't have a contract with me. My friends can store the information if they so choose, but FaceStupid cannot use it for any other processes other than categorization and display purposes for my friends.

Of course, I can hear you and others saying that is regulation going to far and it is ridiculous of me to want to control my information once it is out there, etc., etc., etc. However, corporations are not people and should be recognized for having the power that they have along with government.

It's insane to treat all entities the same when it comes to information regardless of differing levels of power.

Re:And this is bad why.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700955)

To inject a bit of nerdery into the conversation....

Star Wars is fiction, set on alternate planets with alternate histories. Given. But I've often wondered what set of circumstances would cause an advanced society, capable of FTL interplanetary travel, to wear clothing (i.e. hooded robes) which was popular hundreds of years ago. What set of circumstances would lead to a fashion like that?

Turns out that this is exactly the type of circumstances that would bring about the hooded robe fashion. Abuse technology to track people, and people will take relatively simple measures to make sure that's harder for you -- like wearing ankle-length, non-descript robes and hoods that cover the face.

Sure, that's not a fashion statement that's ready to be made, but it wouldn't take too many high-profile abuses of this to make it seem like a good idea.

Slippery Slope (5, Insightful)

Bigby (659157) | about 2 years ago | (#40699057)

Technology is too good! We need to outlaw it!

This is another case if outlawing technology. Someone can look at a person, compare them to a lineup of photos, and then look them up in a phonebook and call them. But because a computer can do it so much better and so much quicker, we are scared and feel the need to censor progress. What about the freedom to take photos? The freedom to process photos?

I can only imagine that when someone invents teleportation, it will be outlawed and the designs burned and the inventor executed, because of the fear that 75% of the population will lose their jobs.

When are we going to accept change and take steps to live within that world? If you are so afraid of it, then stop putting your photo online? If you are a celebrity, then too bad.

I do agree that the government shouldn't be monitoring without a warrant though. Just like they aren't supposed to before technology.

Re:Slippery Slope (2)

Qzukk (229616) | about 2 years ago | (#40699289)

I can only imagine that when someone invents teleportation, it will be outlawed and the designs burned and the inventor executed, because of the fear that 75% of the population will lose their jobs.

Eh, losing jobs only gets half the population riled up. Who's going to bother?

The guy would be executed and the plans burned because someone somewhere might teleport into an elementary school girl's restroom.

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 2 years ago | (#40700141)

"The guy would be executed and the plans burned because someone somewhere might teleport into an elementary school girl's restroom."

and hopefully about 7 seconds later (depending on how quick the little angels are with the panic buttons) a Female Leo will TP in and smack him silly (and then tp him into a jail cell).

Regulation Has Its Place and a Limited Degree (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#40699393)

Technology is too good! We need to outlaw it!

I think it's more along the lines of "technology is very powerful and often allows us to carry out our wildest dreams -- no matter how bad or good they are." I don't think he's pushing for outlawing it altogether but just regulating it. Examples I can think of include when we know a corporation is using it to, say, profile customers who visit public stores and shop in certain sections (without explicit consent) or say that the Church of Scientology decides to use it at protests. Is it wrong to regulate that kind of usage of it? Actually can you please explain where Franken said we need to "outlaw it"? Because you seem to be pushing this to an extreme to invalidate his point.

This is another case if outlawing technology. Someone can look at a person, compare them to a lineup of photos, and then look them up in a phonebook and call them. But because a computer can do it so much better and so much quicker, we are scared and feel the need to censor progress. What about the freedom to take photos? The freedom to process photos?

I can only imagine that when someone invents teleportation, it will be outlawed and the designs burned and the inventor executed, because of the fear that 75% of the population will lose their jobs.

Technology is powerful, there's no way to argue with that. Look at the evolution of guns. Look at the advent of the Maxim gun. Do you think that the laws at the time covered cases where people start stockpiling automatic weapons? Technology has the power to enable to the user past their original abilities and as such, yes, we do find ourselves forced to regulate certain extremes. You can only imagine that the designs would be burned and inventor executed because that's what Al Franken is proposing we do to facial recognition? Try not to hyperbole on your way to the parking lot. We wouldn't outlaw teleportation used for transportation of goods and services, hell, why do you think we built the interstate highway system!? We would outlaw the use of teleporation to rob your neighbor's home or banks!

When are we going to accept change and take steps to live within that world? If you are so afraid of it, then stop putting your photo online? If you are a celebrity, then too bad.

I do agree that the government shouldn't be monitoring without a warrant though. Just like they aren't supposed to before technology.

Yep, it's okay that this hurts everyone else right up until Big Brother and Evil Corp are using it to track/profile/target you and your family. Then I'll bet you'll come around to Al Franken's regulation of this technology in both private corporation and government sectors.

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40699435)

The government won't need warrants. They just have to ask the nice corporations, which have been tracking you and identifying you for their own purposes, to hand over the information. Which the corporations will be more than happy to do, just like all the telecommunications companies were happy to help with the War on Terror.

Re:Slippery Slope (2)

russotto (537200) | about 2 years ago | (#40699749)

I can only imagine that when someone invents teleportation, it will be outlawed and the designs burned and the inventor executed, because of the fear that 75% of the population will lose their jobs.

No, it'll be outlawed because it will make smuggling easy and borders irrelevant.

Re:Slippery Slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40699751)

"I can only imagine that when someone invents teleportation, it will be outlawed and the designs burned and the inventor executed, because of the fear that 75% of the population will lose their jobs."

No need to, the Transport Unions will do that for you.

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#40699871)

Yeah, and never mind that the government agencies have had this type of functionality for the longest time, that's what the police and FBI use to try and catch suspects.

But if you are a private individual or a company with the same type of technology, all of a sudden you are too dangerous.

Al Franken needs to read this book [bastiat.org] and learn something, specifically that if something is illegal for an individual to do, the government must not be allowed to do it either.

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | about 2 years ago | (#40700199)

Technology is too good! We need to outlaw it!

This is another case if outlawing technology. Someone can look at a person, compare them to a lineup of photos, and then look them up in a phonebook and call them. But because a computer can do it so much better and so much quicker, we are scared and feel the need to censor progress. What about the freedom to take photos? The freedom to process photos?

I can only imagine that when someone invents teleportation, it will be outlawed and the designs burned and the inventor executed, because of the fear that 75% of the population will lose their jobs.

When are we going to accept change and take steps to live within that world? If you are so afraid of it, then stop putting your photo online? If you are a celebrity, then too bad.

I do agree that the government shouldn't be monitoring without a warrant though. Just like they aren't supposed to before technology.

Yes, just look at the chilling effects Luddites have had on cars through traffic laws! Someone can walk down a street and run into people and bludgeon them to death with their bodies, but because a car can do it so much better and so much quicker, we are scared and feel the need to censor progress. What about freedom to travel?

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

idontgno (624372) | about 2 years ago | (#40700679)

Someone can walk down a street and run into people and bludgeon them to death with their bodies, but because a car can do it so much better and so much quicker, we are scared and feel the need to censor progress. What about freedom to travel?

I know, right? Our FSM-given right to travel is being TRAMPLED by that pointless prohibition. If you don't like the way I drive, get off the sidewalk!

Re:Slippery Slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700555)

AGREED! The problem is not so much here in the United States, but large marketing campaigns overseas (Asia) that recognize people, what they are wearing and who they hang out with for the sole purpose of increasing sales inside groups of friends. And influencing their immediate peers.

-- SnappleX

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 2 years ago | (#40700895)

Likewise I shouldn't have to give up my privacy because I'm in someone's photo. Facial recognition in itself is fine but as more people's information gets put online it'll be easier to take more of people's information without them even knowing it and it could be used to control people's access to the intenet by killing off anonymous usage. Those things should concern people

Criminal use case... (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | about 2 years ago | (#40701119)

Snap a photo of someone with a smartphone, analyze an image against a database of social media or Flickr pics and, voila, you have a name. From there, it's easy to get someone's age, hometown, interests, news coverage, you name it.

I was going to post a criminal use-case for your humiliation, but if it's not as obvious as I think, I'm not going to inform would-be criminals. This is only made possible by the ability to identify random people on demand. I'm sure there are many other nefarious uses.

Re:Slippery Slope (3, Insightful)

EdIII (1114411) | about 2 years ago | (#40701129)

It's not censoring progress, nor is it taking away the freedom to take photos, or process photos.

It's rather simple. Only fucking human beings can enjoy freedom .

Corporations and Governments are not human beings, and therefore should not be entitled to any sort of basic human rights.

This is only prudent as well. Look up Game Theory. It's very clear that while all entities may possess the same information, that the more powerful entities can do more with it. You would think that would be common sense, but it is quite often overlooked, just as you are doing now.

I'm sorry, but it is batshit insane crazy to have an argument about laws being applied to corporations and government and then to bring up rights and freedoms being abridged through the creation of laws and regulations upon them. They're corporations and governments. We might as well get upset that a toaster oven does not have the freedom of speech.

I'm perfectly okay with you, as a human being, taking a photo of me along with hundreds of other people in a crowded public space. If you want to use advanced technology and tag me with an identity, that's your prerogative too.

In the end though, you are just Bigby. What the heck are you going to man? You don't have massive resources at your disposal. You don't have the abilities of law enforcement to forcibly detain me. You really can't do all that much.

Do you really think FaceStupid and Law Enforcement is as powerful as you, or more powerful? Do you think they could do more with that information, or less?

Just think about it. It's not irrational to want laws to apply to just corporations and governments to preserve privacy and anonymity, when those two together are the single greatest tools we have to defend ourselves against a corrupt tyrannical regime like Syria, Libya, Burma, East Germany, etc., etc., etc., etc.,

I need this (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | about 2 years ago | (#40699091)

Being horrible with names it would be handy to have an augmented reality glasses at a party to remind me who I'm talking to, what their interests are, plus I think it would be helpful for others to know me also. Of course it will eventually be used so salespersons know what your tastes are and what to push.

Re:I need this (1)

Christoph (17845) | about 2 years ago | (#40699387)

I would be willing to "opt in". Anyone else who opts-in (allowing me to know their basic info on sight) can also know mine.

I would be OK with a stranger approaching me to ask for help/to discuss something I have experience in. Others might know to not to bother me (maybe put "no solicitors" in my basic info).

The only obvious downside, to me, would be if others know my basic personal info, and I don't know that they know it, and I do not know theirs.

Re:I need this (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 2 years ago | (#40699795)

"Being horrible with names ..."

No, you're not. You're horrible with faces, everybody looks the same to you.
This technology was invented specifically for you.

Excellent news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40699119)

Snap a photo of someone with a smartphone, analyze an image against a database of social media or Flickr pics and, voila, you have a name. From there, it's easy to get someone's age, hometown, interests, news coverage, you name it.

Finally a solution for picking up pretty girls in bars ;-)

Re:Excellent news (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#40699563)

Snap a photo of someone with a smartphone, analyze an image against a database of social media or Flickr pics and, voila, you have a name. From there, it's easy to get someone's age, hometown, interests, news coverage, you name it.

Finally a solution for stalking pretty girls in bars ;-)

FTFY.

Wait... anyone else have a sudden feeling of deja [thedailybeast.com] vu [delawareonline.com] ?

A difficult judgement (4, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 2 years ago | (#40699139)

On one hand, I get concerned anytime someone wants to regulate a new technology. There is no immediate safety issue or security issue, so my initial reaction to a congresscritter wanting to dictate its usage is negative. Society has adapted to and will continue to adapt to advances in technology, so I don't see the benefit in creating a set of rules and procedures around the appropriate use of the technology.

On the other hand, we certainly see an erosion of privacy in ways that we cou;dn't have imagined a few decades ago. So much of our lives are online, but it is very easy to opt out of Facebook or Google+ (those 12 of us who are part of it). But if this network extends into "real life" and can be married up to financial accounts and transactions made on credit card or debit cards, the mind boggles at the possibilites.

The real issue in my mind is who this information belongs to. Is information about my purchase owned by me, by the party I do business with, the credit card company, all of the above? Should there be limitations in place on how this information gets shared? How in the world do you enforce a set of rules like this?

And if you've been keeping score, I provided zero answers to any of the questions I raise. I don't have any to be honest. But yes, this is a weighty decision, but likely one that is long overdue.

Requiring vs. regulating technology (1)

k(wi)r(kipedia) (2648849) | about 2 years ago | (#40699877)

On one hand, I get concerned anytime someone wants to regulate a new technology.

While this is admittedly troublesome, I'm more worried by attempts to require new technology. For example, what if a a law passes that requires everybody to get a Facebook account as a form of dgiital identification? Or what if the only way you can pay your taxes would be by downloading an official tax app? Or that every baby now has to be implanted with an RFID tag? That would be more terrifying than any law that bans (regulates) Google from indexing certain sites, teachers from "friending" their students, or adults from downloading (but not 0wning pr0nography).

Regulating new technology is less of a problem for me. After all, if it's new technology, we've survived fine without it.

No laws required (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40699141)

I don't get why this is a big deal. I just wear a burka.

even though i love my gadgets (1)

aheadinabox (936810) | about 2 years ago | (#40699165)

Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them. Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam Sometimes I imagine myself in a world filled with people. Fuck facial recognition. Odd to love technology that produces facial recognition software, but hate the world in which it is perceived by many to be needed.

Precedent (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 2 years ago | (#40699177)

What's the lower tech precedent for these rules? I'm not saying they must exist, I just want to be able to contextualize the concern.

Re:Precedent (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 2 years ago | (#40699325)

I'm not sure there can be one. The concern that is being raise is the shear number of cameras in public spaces, combined with accurate location and direction info, combined with facial recognition. I could imagine a world where, if enough people had their device set to 'upload and share everything I see' you could track someone from the moment they left their house in the morning until they moment they arrived home at night. All using publicly available images taken from public property but the general public.

Re:Precedent (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about 2 years ago | (#40700087)

you could track someone from the moment they left their house in the morning until they moment they arrived home at night

Which government could do before if they were interested enough to pay a cop to follow you.

The real issue here is now they can track *everyone* from the moment they left their house in the morning until they moment they arrived home at night. Suddenly there is no variable cost associate with tracking everyone. The result no incentive to not track everyone. They question is do we want to live in a society where, we track everyone. I really think the answer to that is "no" and its going to happen if we don't do something.

Re:Precedent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40699461)

I grew up in a small town (rural Minnesota, population 630) where everyone knows *everyone*, and your only chances for anonymity that I can think of are wearing a face mask or moving away. Does living in a smaller community and just utilizing the human brain count as a lower tech precedent?

Seems appropriate to post this as AC.

"Well Meaning Fool" is correct diagnosis (3, Insightful)

Sloppy (14984) | about 2 years ago | (#40699187)

Genies don't go back into bottles.

And you can't regulate thought, even if some people are virtual cyborgs who do some of their thinking outside of their own bodies. If I already have the capacity to recognizes faces, there's nothing really all that bad about me getting a thousand times better at it. People's memory of having seen others, is already a "privacy concern", whether they are computer aided or not, but it's a realtively unimportant concern compared to others, and we're just quibbling about scale.

It's also bizarre prioritizing. Mass surveillance is working because We The People ultimately have no real problem with the basic idea of it, we have decided we'd rather not require warrants, and stuff like that. Why should we concentrate on one detail for how people are being tracked (faces), when we don't care about any of the others (license plates on cars, people carrying active transmitters of unique ids, etc)? We should change our mind and decide that we want privacy, before we start arguing about specific techs.

Re:"Well Meaning Fool" is correct diagnosis (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | about 2 years ago | (#40699345)

" Mass surveillance is working because We The People ultimately have no real problem with the basic idea of it..."

Who is this "we" you speak of? I have a huge problem with mass surveillance.

Re:"Well Meaning Fool" is correct diagnosis (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40699737)

"We" are the 85% of the population.

Sadly, you and I are in the 15%.

Re:"Well Meaning Fool" is correct diagnosis (3, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | about 2 years ago | (#40699513)

I don't agree. Mass surveillance is working because most of us aren't very aware that it's going on. When people do notice it's going on and they have a problem with it, they don't have any way to do anything about it.

In my mind, I think the problem is more generalized than just being about facial recognition. When the United States was founded, they included the Bill or Rights to protect citizens from government intrusion, which I believe was a good idea. But with technology, the freedom against unreasonable searches becomes more complicated. Is wiretapping a search? Is it a search to put a tracker on someone to keep track of their whereabouts? If the government can include cameras and microphones and other sensors everywhere, and they can track everywhere you go, everything you say, and everything you do, is that a "search"?

I think the government should certainly regulate how they can collect this kind of information. It's not an issue of putting the genie back in the bottle. We have rules about when law enforcement uses wiretapping. That's technology too, it's just older and so you're used to there being rules. In the same way, we should have rules about when they can use facial recognition or GPS trackers.

Re:"Well Meaning Fool" is correct diagnosis (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#40700013)

It's not an issue of putting the genie back in the bottle. We have rules about when law enforcement uses wiretapping.

I'd agree with your argument if I believed that law enforcement was following those rules. What evidence us members of the public have strongly suggests that (A) law enforcement routinely wiretaps all Internet and probably phone communications within the United States, and (B) charges with espionage those who tell the public about that.

One reason mass surveillance is working is that a lot of people think it's just targeting somebody else (e.g. Arab-American Muslims) rather than targeting them. Of course, "first they came for the Communists ..." is true as always.

Re:"Well Meaning Fool" is correct diagnosis (1)

Blue Stone (582566) | about 2 years ago | (#40699621)

I'm pretty uncomfortable with most aspects of mass surveillance, but that's mostly because of the disparity between the power the state has and what a citizen has, and also the Intrusiveness that's frequently involved, but facial recognition doesn't seem to be the same.

  For one, these recordings are in public, where there can't be any expectations of privacy or anonymity, and secondly this is really little different from passing 'round a photo of someone and asking if they recognise the subject. That's generally difficult in large populations, which makes me think that the real effect of this technology is in returning us to the small village in a sense, where everyone knew everyone.

  That might be a bad thing and it might also have certain advantages, but I suspect they're largely to do with HOW the tech is used. I think if anything, there's a case for making it available to EVERYONE, if it's going to be available to anyone, so that power abuses by the state can be countered. That's where I see the real threat from this technology.

Re:"Well Meaning Fool" is correct diagnosis (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 2 years ago | (#40699837)

If the cops can tail you without a license, then why shouldn't they be able to track you with GPS. And if they can track you with GPS, why shouldn't they be able to track everyone? Sometimes the scale of something matters. Being able to recognize me when you see me on the street or on a facebook post is a little different from being able to find every single publicly available picture that I've ever been in.

Re:"Well Meaning Fool" is correct diagnosis (3, Funny)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | about 2 years ago | (#40700263)

If the cops can tail you without a license, then why shouldn't they be able to track you with GPS. And if they can track you with GPS, why shouldn't they be able to track everyone? Sometimes the scale of something matters. Being able to recognize me when you see me on the street or on a facebook post is a little different from being able to find every single publicly available picture that I've ever been in.

A large contingent of Slashdot posters has always struggled to think of a concept in between the extremes. I think that's why Ayn Rand is so popular around here.

Re:"Well Meaning Fool" is correct diagnosis (2)

s.petry (762400) | about 2 years ago | (#40700081)

Claiming people don't care when they are intentionally being left in the dark is a horrible way of backing your statement. The majority don't know that they are being tracked constantly, and not just big brother but private companies collecting and selling your tracking data.

I think most people take no issues with something like OnStar, where the system can track you when you wish to be tracked. Most people would definitely take issue if they knew that nearly anyone could pay to not only find out where they work, but what stores they shop at, and when they most often shop, and where they have been.

It is quite possible that you see no difference between being tracked 24/7 and having the ability to send a signal to send help which includes a GPS coordinate. If that is a case, you are very ignorant.

Save the straw man "you hate technology" since that is not even close to the topic. The topic is about a right to privacy, and an intentionally uninformed public.

Re:"Well Meaning Fool" is correct diagnosis (1)

Que914 (1042204) | about 2 years ago | (#40700295)

If I already have the capacity to recognizes faces, there's nothing really all that bad about me getting a thousand times better at it.

Okay you already have the ability to recognise faces and remember seeing people at certain place, but that not a valid comparison to having devices in every nook and cranny of a city that can do it with perfection. As a similar example, our society is having a similar debate around requiring or not requiring a warrant to place a GPS tracker on a car. Those saying a warrant isn't required assert "It's no different from assigning a tail to a subject so no warrant should required." The biggest difference between the two is cost and scalability. The cost of assigning officers to tail someone around the clock is high and serves as a deterrent to doing so without a good reason. When that can be done at a low or zero cost that deterrent is no longer there and it becomes time to have a discussion about what is or is not reasonable. The same is true of facial recognition technology. Fifty years ago people would unlikely argue there was something wrong with Sears hiring clerks to maintain detail records of every person who every walked into their store. The ease and low cost with which that can be done today means it's time to have a discussion about what is and is not reasonable.

Syria? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40699189)

What about dissidents here in Google's home country, the United States of America?

Re:Syria? (4, Funny)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 2 years ago | (#40699285)

What about dissidents here in Google's home country, the United States of America?

Now I'm confused. Was "dissidents" a misspelling of traitors, terrorists, pedophiles, or pirates?

Re:Syria? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40699697)

What about dissidents here in Google's home country, the United States of America?

Now I'm confused. Was "dissidents" a misspelling of traitors, terrorists, pedophiles, or pirates?

It's a shame that this old AC was being serious in his post (which keeps it's original Score: 0). But your satirical reply has earned you a +4 Funny.

What about us dissidents here in the USA? I assume, of course, that Google also has a de-obfuscation filter to HELP identify us :(

Re:Syria? (2)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 2 years ago | (#40700369)

What about dissidents here in Google's home country, the United States of America?

Now I'm confused. Was "dissidents" a misspelling of traitors, terrorists, pedophiles, or pirates?

It's a shame that this old AC was being serious in his post (which keeps it's original Score: 0). But your satirical reply has earned you a +4 Funny.

What about us dissidents here in the USA? I assume, of course, that Google also has a de-obfuscation filter to HELP identify us :(

Actually, I was going for irony rather than satire, but that's OK, too.
Any dissident in the US will inevitably be castigated as a pirate or pedophile or terrorist or traitor or a member of some other group that it's acceptable to impugn unconditionally. In the old days they would have been labeled "unAmerican pinko commies" but that's almost comically retro nowadays, while alleging that they're "sexual deviants" is quite ineffective.

Re:Syria? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700455)

I think it may have to do something with communists, hippies and drug addicts

Sounds right (1)

nine-times (778537) | about 2 years ago | (#40699291)

I don't think Franken is a well-meaning fool. If there aren't already rules on how the government uses facial recognition tech, there should be.

Just to give a dystopian example, what if the government hooked up cameras everywhere (we already have traffic cameras, cameras in ATMs, security cameras in public buildings), and then tied them all into a computer system that recognized everyone's faces and kept track of your whereabouts?

When guns are outlawed... (2)

Cid Highwind (9258) | about 2 years ago | (#40699295)

Snap a photo of someone with a smartphone, analyze an image against a database of social media or Flickr pics and, voila, you have a name. From there, it's easy to get someone's age, hometown, interests, news coverage, you name it."

Interesting tech, and more than a little bit scary. However, I don't think that congress passing a law restricting it is going to slow our march toward cyberpunk dystopia one bit. In the post-9/11 security state, it's an absolute certainty that the three-letter agencies will continue to develop and use face recognition, and pretty much a given that soon afterward local cops will be using their hand-me-downs on routine drug cases (just like GPS trackers and smartphone data loggers). Businesses big enough to have offshore tax shelters will just build offshore data-processing shelters, streaming images from their front door cameras to foreign locales to be analyzed by restricted facial-recognition algorithms and customer profiles back in real time. In the end this would only bite individuals and small businesses (much like our allegedly-high taxes).

Restrictions On Government Use? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40699377)

What we really need is restriction on .gov use of the technology. Under today's circumstances, there must be reasonable articulable suspicion that a crime is being committed before photo ID is demanded, but if they can just scan your face with a camera, they get your photo ID without probable cause. If not stopped there, they'll use what they find trolling faces to generate probable cause for arrests and detainment. The founders wanted the limits on asking for papers, not so that real criminals could get away, but so that in the event government decided to criminalize freedom, there was still a way to practice dissent.

Think about potential abuses (5, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 years ago | (#40699425)

I create a high-speed facial recognition camera and sell a network of my devices set up along highways and major streets. I can with good accuracy identify people based on social media and I can track roughly the travel of millions of citizens a day. I can even quickly install temporary cameras around "problem areas." Now, the government probably can't buy this system, but they can license access to my database the same way the government has been licensing access to Total Information Awareness data mining databases from the private sector. Still don't see a problem?

Re:Think about potential abuses (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 2 years ago | (#40699613)

C'mon people, let's be a little more creative! How about running facial recognition on uploaded amateur pr0n, and locating nearby individuals who share your "interests"?

Re:Think about potential abuses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40699699)

Put your information online - so the data is accessible to anyone with an internet connection. The problem seems to be people that think no harm can ever come from data they openly provide to the whole 'connected' world. Or social network sites that don't allow privacy options to be on by default (FB)!

Re:Think about potential abuses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40699709)

Sounds like the Gargoyles in Snowcrash selling their data to the CIA.

Re:Think about potential abuses (1)

Xibby (232218) | about 2 years ago | (#40700859)

My thought was protest groups, rally groups, etc. Run photos of the group through facial recognition and bam, instant list of supporters of whatever cause. On the good side, hate groups might be less likely to voice their opinions in public if someone were to photograph them, run facial recognition, and post the results online, or members could be publicly shunned, denied services, jobs, etc. On the flip side the same could happen for worthy causes, sparking more issues between opposing groups. And how many political careers could be ended or mired in controversy years down the road due to attendance at a group while you were in college?

I'm on the fence on this scenario, on one hand forcing a name to the supporters of any cause doesn't seem like that bad of an idea. If you truly support said cause, you shouldn't be reluctant to put your name with the cause in the first place. On the other hand the potential for abuse is extremely high. So identify the detriments to society and direct laws there so there are limits, but don't' hold back the technology and it's potential benefits.

Another example (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#40699867)

The Senator's party affiliation is left out of the summary - as is typical. Let's play "guess the party".

Re:Another example (2)

wealthychef (584778) | about 2 years ago | (#40700171)

Does it matter? Tell me, which party is in favor of more individual liberty, less government intrusion? Is it the bureaucracy-saves-the-children Democrats, or the military-saves-the-world Republicans?

But..., but.... (2)

Jawnn (445279) | about 2 years ago | (#40699945)

Regulation is bad. Right? The free market will take care of everything, including our privacy. Right? RIGHT?

Re:But..., but.... (1)

wealthychef (584778) | about 2 years ago | (#40700135)

Which is more open and transparent -- the free market, with all its flaws, or the Federal Government, with all its self-proclaimed good intentions? Personally, I don't trust either one. We have to be vigilant of both.

Re:But..., but.... (1)

Thuktun (221615) | about 2 years ago | (#40700733)

Who's vigilant of the free market other than government regulators?

Misdeeds done at the corporate level (c.f. Enron [wikipedia.org] ) generally only come to light through governmental regulatory investigations, since companies can tell you to sod off. The government reports to the people and we have a number of tools to ferret out misdeeds within government. Government also investigates itself regularly.

Re:But..., but.... (1)

wealthychef (584778) | about 2 years ago | (#40701143)

I agree. We need government regulation and oversight of companies. But let's not make the mistake of thinking government is more or less trustworthy than corporations. The government needs to be transparent in order to be effective. What happens now is "regulation" == "licensing and red tape," not really oversight. Also let's not forget that corporations own our politicians. As I said, I trust neither of them.

Re:But..., but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700657)

The free market can't force you not to take countermeasures in public, such as wearing a mask. But many governments believe they have that power. Ditto license plates and automatic recognition, the technology is enabled by the rules enforced by governments.

no surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700057)

A Jewish person has a problem with people potentially using technology to catalog and document people? I can't say I blame him, having read a history book once.

The only thing scarier than corporate spying... (1)

wealthychef (584778) | about 2 years ago | (#40700111)

... is government regulation of corporate spying -- because in the end corporations and government will collude to spy on everyone else. Only the rich will be able to afford to know what's really going on.

Smart (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#40700329)

A lot of people, and even more sadly a lot of politicians, don't realize that laws need to be updated to account for changes in technology. Often old laws rely on the technological limitations of the time when they were made, and new technologies shouldn't be allowed to effecively do an end-run around the spirit of the law. Privacy is often a casualty of these situations.

Find that girl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700341)

Hey, is there any "find that girl" app for Android out yet?

Kang says: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700623)

Rorschach masks for some, miniature American flags for others!

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