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Feds Told to Better Manage Facial Recognition, Amid Privacy Concerns

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that government agencies are regularly using facial recognition technology in criminal investigations, including to identify travelers. The GAO dictates that stricter management is necessary to protect people’s privacy and inaccurate identification since the technology has been proved to hold certain biases. The federal government’s unmonitored and unmanaged usage of facial recognition puts individual’s privacy at risk, according to the government watchdog. The GAO surveyed 42 federal agencies that employ law enforcement officers, finding that 20 of them were either using their own facial recognition systems or working with a third party such as Amazon’s Rekognition or the controversial Clearview AI.

Of the 20 agencies actively using the technology, only the Department of Veterans Affairs Police Service, the FBI, and NASA’s Office of Protective Service have proprietary facial recognition systems, meaning that the remaining 17 use third-party services. The report also found that a number of these agencies do not always know how the technology is being used nor whether the third parties are collecting the data. It is also unclear to many of these agencies how the highly sensitive data is managed or stored later, presenting a cybersecurity and privacy risk. The GAO stated that these agencies have not fully assessed the potential risks of deploying these systems, including concerns related to privacy and accuracy.

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