A facial recognition system is a technology capable of identifying and verifying a person from a digital image or a video frame from a video source. There are multiple methods in which facial recognition systems work, but in general, they work by comparing selected facial features from the given image with faces within a database.
Recently, it has been claimed that 1100 people have been identified to be associated with the Delhi riots through the same technology. The voter ID and driving license are said to be a part of the database in this case. However, the technology has faced heavy criticism from scientific experts, governors and unions.
In 2018, the ‘American Civil Liberties Union’ tested Amazon’s Facial Recognition System where 28 American politicians’ faces matched with criminals. A renowned ‘Massachusetts Institute of Technology’ (MIT) researcher, Joy Buolamwini conducted a research on the ‘Facial Recognition Technology’ of IBM, Microsoft and Amazon.
She found out the technology was inadequate in detecting the gender of women. She said the technology worked mostly on light-skinned American men with an error margin less than 1%, while it had an error margin of 34.7% in the case of Black-skinned women. She also found through her research that the technology works accurately only on the faces of the majority population of the country.
China, which is under complete surveillance of this technology, has seen many errors in case of facial recognition of the minority population of the country. Similarly, in England and America, it worked accurately on the white population but did not show the same accuracy in case of the other races’ facial features.
The technology has been questioned regarding its undemocratic nature. Its ability to obtain personal information about individuals without their consent in a democracy has been criticized. Many have also spectated the probable abuse of the technology on a massive scale by law enforcers and political parties for their personal benefit.
San Francisco, Oregon, New Hampshire and California have banned the use of ‘Facial Recognition Technology’ on body cameras of the policemen till 2023. The European Union is discussing if a moratorium is to be imposed on the technology for five years. The Union says that the technology breaches privacy laws and can be used for thefts and frauds.