A majority of Americans trust law enforcement agencies to use facial recognition technology responsibly, and say it’s OK to use the controversial tool to keep public spaces secure, according to a new survey.
However, the Pew Research Center survey also found that acceptance of the technology for law enforcement does not extend to other areas. In terms of its responsible use, technology companies and advertisers only received support from 36 percent and 18 percent of respondents in the survey.
The survey arrives amid questions about the tech, which has not always worked as advertised, has misidentified lawmakers as criminals or was being misused in some way. Several cities have banned the technology.
A recent report found that motor vehicle departments across the country are taking drivers’ personal information and selling it to a range of different businesses, including private investigators, generating millions in revenue.
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A test by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Amazon’s face recognition software found it falsely matched 26 California state lawmakers, or more than one in five, to images from a set of 25,000 public arrest photographs. Over half of the false positives were people of color.
The technological tool has drawn increasing attention from digital rights and privacy groups as well. Many are calling for an outright ban on facial recognition’s use by law enforcement. In addition,
Some lawmakers, including Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, want to ban police use of the tech.
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In addition, a larger share of white people (64 percent) than of blacks (47 percent) or Hispanics (55 percent) accepts the idea of enforcement using facial recognition in public spaces.
The Pew survey also shows that Americans are becoming more informed about the technology: “86 percent in total have heard at least something about facial recognition technology, with 25 percent saying they have heard a lot about these systems.”
The digital rights group Fight for the Future, which wants to see a federal ban on police use of the technology, has published an interactive map showing exactly where it’s being deployed nationwide.
The survey of a nationally representative sample of 4,272 U.S. adults was conducted June 3-17.
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