By Aaron Kesel
FaceFirst is another company with something to lose if facial recognition regulation bans the technology. They have now entered the lobbying ring to attempt to influence laws for the Orwellian biometric technology.
FaceFirst writes in a press release:
FaceFirst is partnering with congressional lawmakers to influence future facial recognition privacy regulations.
(Los Angeles) FaceFirst, the leading U.S. computer vision company, announced today that they are working closely with D.C. lawmakers to influence future facial recognition regulations.
A team of FaceFirst executives, led by FaceFirst President and CEO Peter Trepp, recently traveled to Capitol Hill to help the bipartisan Commercial Facial Recognition Privacy Act of 2019 (S. 847) move forward. The FaceFirst team briefed bill co-sponsor Senator Roy Blunt’s office on the need to protect consumer privacy while still allowing the public to benefit from this transformative technology.
“While we’re seeing rapid market adoption of facial recognition technology, there remain valid concerns that this technology needs to be regulated and used responsibly ,” stated Trepp. “Regulations are necessary guardrails for protecting privacy, but it’s essential that they don’t unduly compromise public safety or stifle innovation.”
“Congressional lawmakers see and understand that retailers need facial recognition technology to combat organized retail crime, shoplifter recidivism, and to keep their employees and customers safe,” stated FaceFirst Chief Revenue Officer Dara Riordan. Due to high levels of recidivism, ORC costs the U.S. retail industry $46.8 billion every year according to the National Retail Federation.
In addition to retail, facial recognition technology is currently being used by event venues, hospitals, transportation centers and other public spaces to prevent terrorism and acts of violence. FaceFirst also briefed the Senator’s office on various commercial use cases for facial recognition including enabling seamless, secure transactions and better customer experiences.
FaceFirst is currently working with congressional lawmakers to review and influence future legislation. The company will be offering recommendations intended to maximize consumer privacy without disrupting innovation.
“The right regulations can alleviate public concerns and fast-track mass adoption,” stated FaceFirst CEO Peter Trepp. “That’s why we’re partnering with lawmakers to ensure that regulations are a win-win for consumers and vendors alike.” Peter Trepp is also the author of The New Rules of Consumer Privacy: Building Loyalty with Connected Consumers in the Age of Face Recognition and AI.
For those who don’t remember or have been living under a rock, FaceFirst is the company that wants to work with retailers to implement facial recognition inside hundreds and soon thousands of stores. FaceFirst wants to build a database of shoplifters, as Activist Post reported.
So another company that has skin in the game with facial recognition technology to succeed gets to decide laws that will affect the rest of us?
The concept of the technology now being used is customers walk through a store entrance, the video camera captures repetitious images of each shopper and chooses the clearest one to then store in its database. The software then analyzes that image and compares it to a database of “bad customers” that the retailer has compiled; if there is a match, the software sends an alert to store employees that a “high risk” customer has entered the door.
Activist Post Recommended Book: The Age of Surveillance Capitalism
The problem with this is not only the blatantly obvious of stores wanting to use biometric surveillance within their establishments that would give them a database on their customers. It’s that it is up to the retailer themselves to decide whether anyone apprehended for shoplifting can later opt out of their database. Although, the software automatically purges visitor data that does not match information in a store’s criminal database every 14 days, the company’s minimum recommendation for auto-purging data.
This is extremely worrying and would enable a “pre-crime” policed environment in establishment stores, giving them the power to not only keep track of customers but store a digital profile on them without their consent. Again, this is the same company that wants to write laws on facial recognition use.
According to FaceFirst’s website they also work with “event venues, transportation centers and other organizations prevent crime and improve customer engagement while growing revenue.”
Fight For The Future launched a campaign with artists against venues using facial recognition technology to track fans. While FaceFirst argues the technology helps to “create safer communities, more secure transactions and great customer experiences.” Fight For The Future and the artists argue the technology serves as “dangers to their fans in the form of police harassment including — misidentification, deportation, arrests for outstanding charges during an event and drug use during an event, discrimination at their concerts, and fans in a permanent government database.”
On the subject of transportation, Activist Post has explored what’s happening in China with facial recognition tickets being offered for free travel on a train for elderly Chinese citizens, and how soon that reality will also become America’s own nightmare.
Last week, Activist Post reported Amazon’s own attempts to influence legislation on an industry they have a stake in with Bezos stating at a recent conference that the company was “working with law makers.”
Earlier this year, legislators called for putting a “time out” on facial recognition technology until regulations are in place. So far, Congress has held two oversight hearings on the topic and there are at least four bills in the works to limit the technology.
On top of that, some cities in the U.S. have outright banned the biometric technology like San Francisco, Somerville, Massachusetts, and Oakland, California, as Activist Post reported.
The rapid growth of this technology has triggered a much-needed debate to slow down the roll out. Activists, politicians, academics and even police forces all over the world are expressing serious concerns over the impact facial recognition could have on our society.
If that’s not enough, phone maker Motorola is also throwing its weight behind new surveillance products, essentially selling out humanity to aid the police state, NBC reported.
Since 2017, the Chicago-based tech company — now known as Motorola Solutions, after Motorola Inc. spun off its mobile phone business — has invested $1.7 billion to support or acquire companies that build police body cameras; train cameras to spot certain faces or behavior; sift through video for suspicious people; and track the movement of cars by their license plates. By consolidating these tools within a single corporation, and potentially combining them into a single product, Motorola Solutions is boosting its stature in the surveillance industry ─ and amplifying concerns about the government’s growing power to watch people almost anywhere they go.
This is all conditioning for the Trump administration’s push for a Biometric Exit database at the nation’s borders and getting Americans more subservient to government surveillance.
Trump’s executive immigration order on January 27th, 2017 — best known for suspending visitors to the U.S. from seven majority-Muslim countries — also included an article expediting the biometric exit program. The order further stated that there will be three progress reports to be made over the next year on the program. Trump’s executive order in March built on that, specifically limiting biometric scans at the border to “in-scope travelers” or those who aren’t U.S. or Canadian citizens.
It is one thing to sell out humanity, it’s a whole other thing to be the fox guarding the hen house deciding the laws for a technology you have a stake in like FaceFirst and Amazon. That used to be seen as a conflict of interest until government merged with corporations and allowed them such terrifying control over our lives.
I don’t think anyone is arguing against regulation or outright banning facial recognition technology. The problem is who wants to write the laws for such an effort, and those corporations not having the best of intentions for the American people. At least Microsoft President Brad Smith has said that the tech giant “won’t sell facial recognition to governments for use in mass surveillance.”
A national survey in the U.S. of 3,151 U.S. adults in December taken by the Center for Data Innovation, found only one in four Americans believe the federal government should strictly limit the use of facial recognition biometrics technology.
The survey also indicated Americans are more likely to support a trade-off to their own privacy caused by biometric technology if it benefits law enforcement, reduces shoplifting or speeds up airport security lines.
Only 18 percent of those polled stated they agreed with strict limitations on facial recognition tech if it comes at the expense of public safety, compared to 55 percent who disagreed with such limitations.
However, a poll from the Brookings Institution in September 2018 contradicts that and found half of Americans favored limitations of the use of facial recognition by law enforcement, while 42 percent felt it invaded personal privacy rights.
Fight For The Future has previously launched a first-of-its-kind interactive map that tracks where in the U.S. facial recognition technology is being used and where it is being resisted, along with a tool-kit for local activists who want to help kickstart a ban in their city or state, as Activist Post reported.
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