Tech companies tend to present themselves as agents for good and while the U.S. became engulfed with anti-racism demonstrations a majority of them openly disavowed the marketing of divisive facial recognition technologies to police.

Facial recognition has numerous applications that could make our lives easier, as we saw with Apple using it to unlock smartphones or to replace cash registers in stores. But the technology has a dark side, with facial recognition incorporated into China’s vast municipal monitoring program and its social credit scheme, where only slight infringements of societal norms will lead to penalties.

As demonstrations erupted throughout the U.S. against excessive brutality and inequality, criticism on the technology intensified on tech companies. Microsoft and Amazon announced that they would suspend sales to police forces of facial recognition software while IBM said it would exit the business.

Privacy and rights groups are concerned about the consequences of law enforcement using facial recognition technology.

This states that the US state governments maintain large video files as part of their motor vehicle services, which may result in “a robust network of detection and monitoring” if paired with police security or other devices.

A New York Times investigation in January 2020 pulled the curtain back on the activities of California startup Clearview AI, whose facial recognition tool could end your ability to walk down the street anonymously. That’s because Clearview AI doesn’t use government-held images, but billions of pictures scraped from social networking pages.

Though social networking platforms such as Twitter , Facebook , YouTube (Google) and LinkedIn (Microsoft) protested against the illegal usage of images of their customers, Clearview did not cooperate with their demands to erase them. The firm, which received funding from co-founder Peter Thiel of PayPal, says it has already signed up to 600 law enforcement agencies around the world.

According to the advocacy group AlgorithmWatch, at least 10 European police forces are already using technology for facial recognition and have not had to turn to the tech giants.


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