Bot brother is watching

Facial recognition software is already here, but are we doing enough about regulating it?

03 September 2020

It seems strange that, after working hard to develop a potentially revolutionary technology offering, you then join sides with some of your fiercest competitors to stop the sale of this product class. But that’s exactly what’s happened with facial recognition solutions offered by IBM, AWS and Microsoft. The moves were made in June, during the Black Lives Matter protests in the US, which saw police forces being challenged over the biased and brutal treatment of black people. The cessation of sales resulted from uncertainty over the use of the technology by law enforcement agencies, and a perceived lack of trust of these authorities. Subsequently, a bill has been brought to US Congress (The Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act of 2020), which, if passed, would ban federal law enforcement from using the technology and make it difficult for other police departments to use it. If this technology is proving so troublesome abroad, the question, then, is where are we with facial recognition in South Africa?

As might be expected, we’re trailing the likes of the US, Europe and China.

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