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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Virginia governor announces removal of Richmond's Robert E. Lee statue

Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Thursday that the state will remove the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Richmond's historic Monument Avenue.

Why it matters: It's a watershed moment for Virginia, which has been at the center of a years-long national debate about whether Confederate monuments should be displayed publicly. That discussion reached a boiling point when protests about a statue of Lee in Charlottesville turned violent in 2017.

RNC expands convention search across the Sun Belt

Donald Trump, Mike Pence and their families on the last night of the Republican National Convention in Ohio in 2016. Photo: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images.

The Republican National Committee is planning site visits over the next 10 days to more than a half-dozen cities — across the South and into Texas and Arizona — as it scrambles for a new convention host, people familiar with the internal discussions tell Axios.

Driving the news: The RNC's executive committee voted Wednesday night to allow most of the convention to move — with only a smaller, official portion remaining in Charlotte — after North Carolina's governor said the coronavirus pandemic would mean a scaled-back event with social distancing and face coverings.

Oil faces tough road back from coronavirus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Oil companies in the battered shale patch are starting to bring back some production as prices climb, but a new report underscores how the pandemic is taking a heavy financial toll despite signs of revival.

Driving the news: Fourteen North American producers have filed for bankruptcy thus far during the second quarter, per a tally from the law firm Haynes and Boone, which closely tracks the sector's finances.