Aug 2, 2019

Kids at the center of facial recognition

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facial recognition is going everywhere far faster than expected — including creeping into private and public spaces as a means to keep tabs on children.

Why it matters: The people with the power to rein in this tech are the same ones who will most enjoy its benefits — while those who face its adverse effects, especially people of color and low-income communities, will be largely powerless to make anything change.

  • For the privileged, facial recognition saves time: Parents can keep tabs on their summer camp tykes thanks to facial recognition identifying their pics, the WSJ reports. Parents upload a pic of their kids, which is matched to new pics uploaded by camp photographers.
  • For the non-privileged, it's a source of concern: "The New York Police Department has been loading thousands of arrest photos of children and teenagers into a facial recognition database despite evidence the technology has a higher risk of false matches in younger faces." [NYT] This could especially expose more children of color to the school to prison pipeline.
  • For a mixture of both (via public schools), there are surveillance cameras equipped with facial recognition meant to spot potential threats: Schools can upload a list of faces not allowed on the premises, and get notifications if someone on the list shows up. [WSJ]

The big picture: Security fears have propelled surveillance adoption, but there’s little evidence yet that this technology keeps kids safer, Axios' Kaveh Waddell emails.

The bottom line: Considering all the issues listed above, perhaps it wouldn't hurt to move a smidge slower before rolling out these ideas nationwide.

Go deeper: AI surveillance goes to school

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TSA launches new facial recognition test in Vegas airport

A TSA agent checks in passengers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, August 24, 2016. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Transportation Security Administration is preparing to launch its 4th round of facial recognition testing at Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport, as part of the agency's multi-year plan to pilot using passengers' biometric data at security checkpoints.

The big picture: The federal government sees the tests as an effort to boost the efficiency and effectiveness of airport screening. But some privacy and surveillance analysts at the ACLU and the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), a nonprofit watchdog organization, raise concerns that the technology could ultimately turn airports into police checkpoints.

Go deeperArrowAug 29, 2019

Schools balance safety vs. rights

Students at William Hackett Middle School pass through metal detectors in Albany, N.Y. Photo: Mike Groll/AP

As America confronts a mass shooting crisis, schools are increasingly having to balance proactivity on potential school shooters vs. privacy laws and civil liberties meant to protect individuals.

Why it matters: Connor Betts, who killed 9 people this weekend in Dayton, Ohio, was suspended during high school for writing a "hit list" and rape list, the AP reports.

Go deeperArrowAug 7, 2019

The financial risks parents take to pay for college

A graduating student wears a money lei on June 14, in Pasadena, California. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Most middle-class parents view paying for college as a moral obligation, not just a budgetary challenge, according to new research by New York University associate professor Caitlin Zaloom, the New York Times reports.

Driving the news: Even when money isn't a problem, Operation Varsity Blues illustrates that some parents will go to great, possibly illegal lengths to secure the "right" school for their children. Wealthy parents — dentistry professors, doctors, executives, actors and lawyers — funded what the DOJ has called the biggest admissions scam in U.S. history, to secure spots for their kids at the University of Texas, Yale, Georgetown and other schools.

Go deeperArrowAug 30, 2019