By Lanka C. (News Consortium)
Companies and events are utilizing facial recognition technology to identify a person’s face, even if the face is partially hidden. Facebook uses their vast facial recognition database, which can recognize a face even when it’s hidden. Google’s new Photos app can now identify adults in photos from their childhood. Though the use of facial recognition can be seen as beneficial, especially for law enforcement agencies or security purposes, the technology appears to be used in unexpected venues, including churches.
Moshe Greenshpan, the CEO of the Israel and Las Vegas based facial recognition software company, Face-Six, revealed there are 30 churches around the world using his Churchix technology.
Greenshpan launched the Churchix system four months ago and explains that churches use this to track congregation members’ attendance in church events so they can check up on those absent and to help the churches identify members who frequently attend activities to ask those people for donations.
Face-Six’s CEO declined to name the churches using his technology, citing the controversy around facial recognition. Greenshpan mentioned encouraging the churches to advise their congregation on the use of Churchix, but admits to thinking the churches are not telling the people.
Privacy advocates have been fearing this absence of informing those being scanned. With increasing usage of the technology, people’s faces are put in databases and used to track them, without their knowledge or agreement.
Ben Sobel explained, in a Washington Post editorial, there are no laws that specifically govern facial recognition technology and there are only two states with relevant laws about the issue.
Although the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a division of the Department of Commerce, has been trying to establish a “code of conduct” to cover facial recognition industry standards in a “privacy multi-stakeholder process” for over a year, the negotiations between the involved industrial representatives and privacy advocates unfortunately broke down last week.
Privacy advocates involved in the process explained the reason for their withdrawal from the talks in a letter, stating they don’t believe the process is “likely to yield a set of privacy rules that offers adequate protection for the use of facial technology.”
The group further mentioned that “facial recognition of consumers should only occur when an individual has affirmatively decided to allow it to occur.” Their letter revealed that industry stakeholders were unable to agree on any concrete scenario where companies should employ facial recognition only with a consumer’s permission.
Despite the absence of laws to cover this concern, the uprise of new technology on image collection makes face recognition an inevitable advancement for the future.
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