back to article Microsoft says it's time to get serious about facial recognition rules: 'Laws and regulations are indispensable'

Microsoft's president has issued a clarion call for more government regulation in response to the rapid evolution of facial recognition technology. On Thursday, Brad Smith, who is also the Windows emporium's chief legal officer, declared it's time for action on the issue before it's too late. "We believe it’s important for …

deadlockvictim
Silver badge

Facebook

Surely the likes of Google, Apple, Facebook must all have quite advanced face-recognition algorithms and hugely-trained data-sets by now. I would think that these would be the companies to go to if the U.S. Government had billions around to implement this technology.

My first thought on reading the headline, though, was that it was time for Microsoft to get serious about Windows 10. Concentrate on your bread-&-butter first before you go looking for lucrative contracts elsewhere.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Invest in hoodie production now

Or be priced out forever!

Voland's right hand
Silver badge

Re: Invest in hoodie production now

Will not help.

1. The primary use of B-R (for any value of biometric) is to trace a person across multiple locations and multiple cameras once that person has been recognized in one location.

2. There are plenty of ways to recognize a person besides face. For example the way you walk is as distinctive as a fingerprint and frankly easier to convert into a machine learn-able form than a face.

So if biometric person recognition takes hold, it does not matter how good the hoodie is. All it takes will be for one camera in the country to recognize you. After that the system will spit out your entire route for the duration of interest of whoever is authorized to query.

So if you want to invest into something invest into people building colony ships - to take those who do not want to stay somewhere else.

big_D
Silver badge

Re: Invest in hoodie production now

You aren't allowed to wear hoodies in public, or rather you can, but you can't cover your face.

On the other hand, CCTVs are also pretty rare, because it infringes on constitutional and privacy rights.

mark l 2
Silver badge

Re: Invest in hoodie production now

"There are plenty of ways to recognize a person besides face. For example the way you walk is as distinctive as a fingerprint and frankly easier to convert into a machine learn-able form than a face."

Your gate might be unique but I think any trails of identifying people by their walk would have been done in ideal test conditions. Where as then putting that into practise on a public CCTV system may prove to be ineffective. CCTV cameras are usually positioned up high and not making it easy to to see someone's legs especially in busy area like a train station where there would be loads of people walking in different directions at once.

Even though it might be time to invest in a Segway or scooter. Or for those too cheap to buy those just pop a sharp stone inside one of your shoes just in case.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Invest in hoodie production now

On the other hand, CCTVs are also pretty rare

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

No, CCTVs are almost everywhere. The average person is on them dozens of times if not scores of times a day.

As of 2017, London police had 51,000 cameras up, though estimates of surveillance cameras run to about 500,000 in London. This almost certainly does not include all private surveillance and 'incidental' surveillance by webcams, dashcams, babycams, etc. A second source cites 420,000 surveillance cameras in London, and 1,850,000 cameras in the UK. One estimate projects 642,000 surveillance cameras in London by 2020. This probably does not include the proposed plate reading cameras every 400 meters along public highways, over the entire country, and probably doesn't include the 'congestion' cameras reading all the vehicle plates going in and out of downtown London.

Beijing had a network of 43,000 police cameras, and on Chinese National Day holidays in 2015 monitored 8 million people over 4 days. Another source cites 400,000 surveillance cameras in Beijing, according to the Beijing Security and Protection Industry Association.

Chicago had about 10,000 police cameras watching public spaces. There are probably hundreds of thousands of privately owned CCTV cameras in the city. Another source cites 17,000 cameras installed as Operation Virtual Shield, a Homeland Security project in Chicago.

Houston is estimated to have about the same number as Chicago, but they refuse to tell anyone how many they have.

New York police had about 6,000 cameras watching public spaces. I wouldn't be surprised to find half a million private surveillance (aka 'security') cameras in that city, plus the incidental cameras, of course.

Chongqing has a plan to deploy 500,000 cameras in that city, as an integrated network.

The 2016 estimate for worldwide surveillance camera count was 350,000,000 in 2016, up from 160,000,000 in 2012. By my math, that's an extra 45,000,000 cameras every year.

The US recorded sales of 30,000,000 security cameras over a ten year period.

South Korea is estimated to have about a million CCTV cameras watching public places, as of 2017.

JohnFen
Silver badge

Re: Invest in hoodie production now

"You aren't allowed to wear hoodies in public, or rather you can, but you can't cover your face."

You can in the US. Thankfully.

big_D
Silver badge

Re: Invest in hoodie production now

@AC and London, Bejing, New York, Chicago and Houston are not in Germany.

jake
Silver badge

Sounds like ...

... Redmond's FR code doesn't work, and they are trying to buy time.

Voland's right hand
Silver badge

Not quite

Given that there are hardly any laws in the US governing facial recognition, that last one should be easy.

While there is no federal law, existing biometrics laws in Illinois, Texas and Oregon apply. Something Facebook is learning the "nuclear wedgie" way at the moment.

big_D
Silver badge
Black Helicopters

Even normal CCTV

is very rare over here. The police have been fighting for years to get more CCTV installed, but they generally can't get clearance to install it, because of data protection and constitutional rights.

Unfortunately, the banned black helicopters icon isn't available.

Wade Burchette

Not a positive use

"And Smith points to other positive uses like ... obviating the need for passwords."

Using facial recognition to obsolete passwords is a very very bad thing. I have helped people with their iPhone X and to unlock it, I once just held up to his face. The phone was in my hand and I was able to unlock it. Imagine this scenario: The police arrest you and they want to get into your phone. They don't need a warrant because all they have to do is hold up to your face. Now they are in and can do whatever they want.

And there can be other similar situations. Pretend that the rubber masks of Mission Impossible become reality, then a person, agency, criminal, whomever can generate your face and unlock your phone, computer, etc at leisure. The point is, using your face to replace passwords is never ever a good thing. It may be a convenience, but that does not make it a good idea.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Not a positive use

Using facial recognition to obsolete passwords is a very very bad thing. I have helped people with their iPhone X and to unlock it, I once just held up to his face. The phone was in my hand and I was able to unlock it. Imagine this scenario: The police arrest you and they want to get into your phone. They don't need a warrant because all they have to do is hold up to your face. Now they are in and can do whatever they want.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

US courts have held that even in circumstances where they can't demand your password or that you unlock a device, they can demand that you apply your finger to a fingerprint reader thus unlocking a device.

JohnFen
Silver badge

My sides hurt

"Microsoft intends to let six principles to guide the company's use of facial recognition going forward. They are: fairness, transparency, accountability, nondiscrimination, notice and consent, and lawful surveillance."

Hahahahahahahahaha!!

Oh, sorry, I meant

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!

Mark 85
Silver badge

The basic problem...

Smith said something similar back in June when he called for "thoughtful government regulation and for the development of norms around acceptable uses."

I think his call for " "thoughtful government regulation" is where the problem lies. Current government (with the exception of one or two CongressCritters) is more about party wars, politics, and featherbedding. The current seated members are about as useless as a screendoor on a submarine as by father would say.

JohnFen
Silver badge

Re: The basic problem...

"thoughtful government regulation"

This is just code for "regulations that benefit us and harm our competitors."

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018