The controversy over usage of facial recognition technology took center stage last week in Washington, D.C., as the House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Committee held a two-hour hearing, as opponents in the debate decry its racial bias and federal government’s quick rollout at U.S. airports without fully testing or acknowledging proven shortcomings.
In his opening remarks, Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) outlined his concerns emerging from last July’s initial hearing on the subject. “I am not wholly opposed to the use of facial recognition technology, as I recognize that it can be valuable to homeland security and serve as a facilitation tool for the Department’s varying missions,” he stated. “But I remain deeply concerned about privacy, transparency, data security, and the accuracy of this technology and want to ensure these concerns are addressed before the Department deploys it further.”
Thompson cited a report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that confirmed age, gender, and racial bias in some facial recognition algorithms. Thompson noted NIST found that depending on the algorithm, African-American and Asian-American faces were misidentified 10 to 100 times more than white faces.
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