Facial Recognition Technology: Ethical and Legal Implications

Facial Recognition Technology: Ethical and Legal Implications

Ellen Marie Raineri (Pennsylvania State University, USA), Erin A. Brennan (Pennsylvania State University, USA), and Audrey E. B. Ryder (Pennsylvania State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-5892-1.ch011
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Facial recognition technology (FRT) is a type of biometric technology that uses a digital image of one's face and uses algorithms to match that image in a database. This type of technology has been adopted by individuals when using their mobile devices and automobiles and to access restricted areas or events. FRT has also been adopted by law enforcement and the government to support crime detection and prevention. In addition to the benefits, the associated cyber security problems, legal issues, and ethical challenges of privacy and discrimination are explored. Understanding ethical theories permits the public and decision-makers to make informed choices to influence changes in law to support the changing environment for FRT. Recommended solutions are included along with future research that addresses face connect in automobiles, state law, and ethical comparisons.
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Frt Background Information

Defining FRT

Facial recognition is a biometric technology that combines machine learning and artificial intelligence to “identify, recognize, and interpret images of faces” (Chilson & Barkley, 2021, p. 87; Ivanova & Borzunov, 2020, Kostka et al., 2021). The first phase is facial detection in which a face is detected solo or in a crowd. Next, the facial image is analyzed, examining areas like the distance between the eyes or the distance from the chin to the forehead. Then, the image is converted into a unique numerical code or faceprint. Last, the faceprint is compared to other images that are stored in a database to see if a match exists (Chilson & Barkley, 2021; Kaspersky, n.d.).

History of FRT

FRT is in wide global use today, but the concepts beyond the technology did not emerge until the 1960s. Over the course of the last two decades, the algorithms that drive the technology have developed. During that same period, the cost of cameras has decreased and access to high quality broadband has increased (Keener, 2022). The result is the extensive and daily use of FRT in and across global communities.

Identifying Uses of FRT

FRT is used in both private and public settings to create convenient consumer experiences and safer societal experiences (Chilson & Barkley, 2021). For example, private businesses and individuals use FRT daily to access smartphones, work areas, and automobiles. Businesses regularly use FRT to monitor worksite admission, provide security, and create targeted marketing. Police and government actors also use FRT to assist in crime prevention and law enforcement (Summa Linguae Technologies, 2021). The general public has grown reliant on the convenience, accuracy, and safety that many of these uses provide. At the heart of each of these measures is the uniquely identifiable human face, and its image that is captured in a moment.


Current Societal Issues Resulting From Frt Use

Having identified what FRT is and some primary ways of its use, consideration of the impact of that use in the context of security, privacy, and discrimination is necessary. Such use is constantly evolving as is its resultant impact. A discussion of some current issues follows.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Discrimination: Within this paper, discrimination is acting upon a personal bias or prejudice attitude (Merriam-Webster, n.d.c).

Algorithm: Rules and processes often created by computers as a set of mathematical commands and directives that calculate answers to problems (Cambridge University Press, 2022a).

Deepfake: A convincing image or video of someone or something that has been altered to distort or misrepresent someone's actions or words (Merriam-Webster, n.d.b).

Bias: In this particular paper, a bias is a personal inclination towards making a prejudiced or unfair judgment against something, someone, or a group (Merriam-Webster, n.d.a).

State Law: The statutes, common law, and regulations that comprise the body of law in a particular state. State Law runs parallel to Federal Law, though in cases of conflict between State and Federal Law, Federal law prevails under Article IV, Section 2 of the United States Constitution (AirSlate Legal Forms, Inc, n.d.).

Federal Law: The body of law that governs an entire country, regardless of city, state, or province (Law Insider, Inc., n.d.).

Privacy: A personal right to keep one's personal matters, information, and relationships secret (Cambridge University Press, 2022b).

Face Detection (aka Face Capture, Face Match, Face Identification, Face Verification, Face Clustering, Face Tracking): The technological means to replicate the biological process of recognizing faces by the means of artificial intelligence. This employs two forms of technology: 1) A scanner (i.e., a camera) and 2) A computer algorithm that can match the scan of a person's face to their identity (Martinez, 2009).

Biometric Data: Measurements that are taken to capture a person's physical traits in order to match an identity. Examples of biometric data can include fingerprints, retinal scans, face capturing, or even voice recognition (Johansen, 2019).

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