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Backlash in China brewing against rampant face-recognition in daily life

Photo of CCTV camera by Rafael Parr

Over at Technode, Shi Jiayi synthesizes recent stories in Chinese media showing how China’s ever-surveilled population is getting sick of rampant face-recognition, and is speaking out.

Face-recognition tech has penetrated all sectors of everyday life in China. As Jiayi notes, it’s “it is now used in stores for pay-by-face, in hotels and public transportation for identification checks, and even in schools for monitoring in-class behavior.” — Read the rest

Source: https://boingboing.net/2020/12/23/backlash-in-china-brewing-against-rampant-face-recognition-in-daily-life.html
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Clive Thompson

Massachusetts lawmakers vote to pass a statewide police ban on facial recognition

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Massachusetts lawmakers have voted to pass a new police reform bill that will ban police departments and public agencies from using facial recognition technology across the state.

The bill was passed by both the state’s House and Senate on Tuesday, a day after senior lawmakers announced an agreement that ended months of deadlock.

The police reform bill also bans the use of chokeholds and rubber bullets, and limits the use of chemical agents like tear gas, and also allows police officers to intervene to prevent the use of excessive and unreasonable force. But the bill does not remove qualified immunity for police, a controversial measure that shields serving police from legal action for misconduct, following objections from police groups.

Lawmakers brought the bill to the state legislature in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer, since charged with his murder.

Critics have for years complained that facial recognition technology is flawed, biased and disproportionately misidentifies people and communities of color. But the bill grants police an exception to run facial recognition searches against the state’s driver license database with a warrant. In granting that exception, the state will have to publish annual transparency figures on the number of searches made by officers.

The Massachusetts Senate voted 28-12 to pass, and the House voted 92-67. The bill will now be sent to Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker for his signature.

Kade Crockford, who leads the Technology for Liberty program at the ACLU of Massachusetts, praised the bill’s passing.

“No one should have to fear the government tracking and identifying their face wherever they go, or facing wrongful arrest because of biased, error-prone technology,” said Crockford. In the last year, the ACLU of Massachusetts has worked with community organizations and legislators across the state to ban face surveillance in seven municipalities, from Boston to Springfield. We commend the legislature for advancing a bill to protect all Massachusetts residents from unregulated face surveillance technology.”

In the absence of privacy legislation from the federal government, laws curtailing the use of facial recognition are popping up on a state and city level. The patchwork nature of that legislation means that state and city laws have room to experiment, creating an array of blueprints for future laws that can be replicated elsewhere.

Portland, Oregon passed a broad ban on facial recognition tech this September. The ban, one of the most aggressive in the nation, blocks city bureaus from using the technology but will also prohibit private companies from deploying facial recognition systems in public spaces. Months of clashes between protesters and aggressive law enforcement in that city raised the stakes on Portland’s ban.

Earlier bans in Oakland, San Francisco and Boston focused on forbidding their city governments from using the technology but, like Massachusetts, stopped short of limiting its use by private companies. San Francisco’s ban passed in May of last year, making the international tech hub the first major city to ban the use of facial recognition by city agencies and police departments.

At the same time that cities across the U.S. are acting to limit the creep of biometric surveillance, those same systems are spreading at the federal level. In August, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) signed a contract for access to a facial recognition database created by Clearview AI, a deeply controversial company that scrapes facial images from online sources, including social media sites.

While most activism against facial recognition only pertains to local issues, at least one state law has proven powerful enough to make waves on a national scale. In Illinois, the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) has ensnared major tech companies including Amazon, Microsoft and Alphabet for training facial recognition systems on Illinois residents without permission.

Updated with comment from the ACLU of Massachusetts.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/12/01/massachusetts-votes-to-pass-statewide-police-ban-on-facial-recognition/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Techcrunch+%28TechCrunch%29
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Taylor Hatmaker

Facial Recognition Not Just for People – Bears and Cows, Too

Facial-Recognition-Bears-Cows-Featured.j Facial recognition is being used in many different ways. We use it to log in to our phones and computers, and the police can use it to track criminals. There are more uses for it as well, such as with animals. Facial recognition is already being used to recognize bears and cows. Facial Recognition for Grizzly Bears Bear biologist Melanie Clapham studies grizzly bears in Knight Inlet in British Columbia, Canada. She has learned to differentiate between them by using “individual characteristics,” such as an ear nick or nose… Read more14106266.gif

Source: https://tracking.feedpress.com/link/12555/14106266/facial-recognition-bears-and-cows-too
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Laura Tucker

Senate passes FISA renewal bill, sends it back to the House

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The Senate approved legislation Thursday to renew a handful of key domestic surveillance powers, but only after civil libertarians attached language that the Justice Department warns would “unacceptably degrade” national security.

Now the bill goes back to the House for possibly more tinkering, leaving a cloud over its chances for swift final approval.

The USA Freedom Reauthorization Act of 2020 passed the Senate by an 80-16 vote more than two months after the House approved it by a wide, bipartisan margin. But Thursday’s vote came a day after Senate privacy hawks successfully amended the bill to expand legal protections for certain groups of individuals targeted by federal surveillance — a change that DOJ labeled unacceptable.

“We appreciate the Senate’s reauthorization of three expired national security authorities,” department national security spokesman Marc Raimondi said in a statement. But he said the amended bill “would unacceptably degrade our ability to conduct surveillance of terrorists, spies and other national security threats.”

President Donald Trump, who has accused a government “deep state” of misusing its spying powers, also has not indicated whether he would sign the bill.

The vote occurred mere hours after the announcement that Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who in March argued passionately against letting the authorities lapse, will temporarily step down as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee amid a probe into his stock trades.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn’t say during her weekly news conference Thursday when the chamber would take up the amended measure.

A Democratic leadership aide told POLITICO that it won’t be considered on Friday when the House convenes to vote on the latest Covid-19 relief package. The aide said the leadership was “assessing next steps.”

The FISA renewal bill includes new privacy protections that Attorney General William Barr had helped negotiate and would impose new requirements on the FISA court system. Those were inspired in part by Trump’s allegations that the Obama administration improperly used the spying tools to wiretap his former campaign adviser Carter Page during the initial probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The bill would also permanently end an already deactivated NSA program that had allowed the agency to obtain, with judicial approval, Americans’ phone records in terrorism probes.

Thursday’s successful passage came months after the House voted to reauthorize the authorities with modest changes. The Senate, however, couldn’t reach an agreement for quick passage of the House bill in March amid objections from the chamber’s privacy advocates. The chamber eventually adopted a 77-day extension as a short-term solution, but the House never took it up.

The intelligence tools the authorities enabled have remained offline ever since.

The measure now kicks back to the House, where progressives and libertarians could use the Senate’s changes as leverage to reopen debate on the legislation and try to amend it even further. That’s especially a possibility for those GOP members who have demanded that the chamber reopen for business as usual despite the pandemic.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who along with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) secured the amendment expanding legal protections, called the legislation a “good bill.”

“We got some good reforms here. They are consistent with many of the aims that House members who negotiated the last House bill had in mind,” Lee told POLITICO before the final vote. He had previously lobbied Trump to veto the measure if it reached his desk unaltered.

“I’m certainly not going to tell them what to do with it,” Lee added, though he suggested he might support something similar to a proposed amendment from Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) that would have protected Americans’ internet browsing and search histories from federal surveillance. It came up just one vote shy of the 60-vote threshold.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said the Leahy-Lee amendment “took us a step closer to properly protecting Americans’ civil liberties, and it’s clear we need to go farther.” She had successfully scuttled the House’s first surveillance package in February just hours before the House Judiciary Committee was due to mark it up.

On Thursday, she specifically cited the Wyden-Daines amendment, saying that “it’s now the House’s responsibility to curb this violation of Americans’ rights. I know it’s still within our grasp as lawmakers to push for the significant privacy reforms we need.”

Other House members also seem itching for a fresh surveillance fight.

“Although I am pleased that the Lee-Leahy Amendment passed, I oppose the bill without further amendment. If permitted by House rules, I will offer amendments,” Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) said in a statement to POLITICO. He and Lofgren co-sponsored an alternative renewal bill to the one the House passed.

Source: https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/14/senate-passes-fisa-renewal-259064
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Martin Matishak