By Dr. Marc Vaillant, Animetrics CTO & VP of Engineering
On February 25th, I had the opportunity to make a presentation to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which is holding a series of meetings to determine whether and how to develop voluntary guidelines for the commercial use of facial recognition technology.
Below is a video of the entire meeting. My presentation starts at minute 39.
My talk was educational in nature. Since facial recognition is still in its infancy, stakeholders need to be made aware of its capabilities and its limitations. The audience, made up of privacy advocates, lawmaker’s representatives and biometrics vendors, was very engaged, asking a wide range of probing questions after the presentation.
Animetrics is, of course, a stakeholder in these proceedings. We are monitoring these discussions and hope to participate in further meetings. Our goal is to help create a business climate that promotes and facilitates the growth of facial recognition technologies, positioning its user for securing your privacy, not taking it away.
Animetrics’ CEO, Paul Schuepp, recently wrote an editorial in Forbes.com (viewed over 3,000 times) regarding this issue, concluding that any talk of guidelines at this point is premature. Guidelines have the potential to stymie progress in a very promising market, and could kill investment in a growing, marketable area when the U.S. economy badly needs a boost from innovation. At worst it could hinder the rules that our law enforcement community play by, and make it even more difficult to prosecute.
Our primary focus is on facial recognition solutions for law enforcement, homeland security and the military. We want to give them the cutting edge tools they need to combat 21st century crime. By participating in meetings like this, we are working hard to ensure they are not hamstrung in these efforts.
By contributing factual information about the technology to the people involved at the NTIA, including the ACLU and Center for Democracy, I hope lawmakers and policy makers can make well-informed decisions on how and when to protect privacy, including considering separating the technology from the most important component that needs protection - the data itself. What database and what application has your face associated with your personal information? Who, and what app, are you allowing to share your private data and your private photos? That may be the larger question to be considered.