Sep 26, 2019 - Technology

Tech trade groups oppose facial recognition ban

An illustration showing face recognition technology in action.

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A coalition of tech companies and trade groups is urging Congress not to pass legislation that would ban government use of facial recognition.

Why it matters: As of now there are no national rules on how governments can or can't use face recognition. Consumer groups have been calling for such a ban, while Microsoft and Amazon have encouraged Congress to regulate, but not ban, government use of the technology.

Details: Dozens of companies, trade groups and a number of individuals signed an open letter to Congress that was just made public. Among the trade groups are TechNet, CompTIA, the Consumer Technology Association and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. Companies that signed include chip designer Arm, security company HID Global and NEC Corp. of America.

What they're saying: "Facial recognition technology is one of many technologies that law enforcement can use to help keep communities safe. Facial recognition systems have improved rapidly over the past few years, and the best systems perform significantly better than humans," the group's letter says.

Instead of a ban, the group urge the imposition of appropriate safeguards against misuse of the technology.

"We encourage you to continue to work with these experts to find solutions and compromises that will allow law enforcement agencies to adopt and test this important technology with appropriate oversight," the group wrote.

Meanwhile: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said the company is drafting its own proposed legislation, per Vox.

Go deeper