Technology, evolving everyday getting smarter and smarter in order to ease our daily lives. One such technology is the facial recognition technology. It is the not only a hot brand on the tech market but also on the television front, it has been showcased in Tv shows and movies for years. Like any other technology it grows sophisticatedly and its usage has also expanded accordingly. These sensors have been upgraded to such a level that they can uniquely identify not just faces or animals but every individual fish that it can scans. That is the level of sophistication the facial recognition technology has achieved, but with its expanse it also brings about numerous privacy and civil liberty issues that need to be addressed. The biggest users of this technology worldwide are the Law enforcement departments. The use of this is so blatant that in an estimate around one in every two American has had their photos searched in this manner. Whenever this issue is raised not just in America but in any of the countries that this is so widely used, the authorities use the “we want to prevent atrocities” line, which would be sufficient if it did not come at the price of personal freedom.
Many countries have used this extensively but none other than china, the leading brand for infringing people’s right. They use a project called “Skynet” to monitor nearly every person’s movement, which includes whom you meet, where you go and even track all your movement for the past week. What makes this technology even worse is that even though it is still being used it is still a work in progress, which means its error rate is very high with only a measly 20% success rate. Even though this has such a large failure rate, nations worldwide continue to use it. Just a few years back Sri Lankan authorities mistakenly linked a Brown university student to a terrorist attack. With all of these concerns, a public domain company Clearview.ai has launched its services. To put this into perspective, Clearview.ai has collected data from nearly 3 billion images, which to this date is larger than any other facial recognition database on this planet. The founder Hoan Ton-That has scrapped photos from nearly all publicly available domains, and has become a front runner in the worst possible way. With their below the belt techniques and illegal means of acquiring photos of people, the company has also received cease-and-desist order from Facebook, YouTube and twitter this year. However, they have refused to do so and in fact even going so far as to claim that they have a first amendment right to harvest data, which is completely false. What is of a greater concern is that Hoan has previously developed apps like ViddyHo which tricked its users into sharing their emails and then spammed their contacts. Not only this but since its emergence Clearview.ai has tried to pitch itself to white supremacist candidates to ensure their victory. They have even quietly tried to offer their services to entities in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates who have had a history of human rights violations. With such a large freehand to companies like Clearview.ai we seem to be headed to some dark times indeed.
What could be done to limit these companies are stringent laws to be placed so that companies are required to acquire permission from the person they are collecting data from. We individually cannot do much for this however with a comprehensive nation-wide policy some measure can be taken to ease the illegal flow of information that companies like Clearview.ai seem to obtain.
What happens next is for all of us to see.