The fight against facial recognition hits impasse across the West

Efforts to check the spread of face-scanning technology are hitting a wall of resistance on both sides of the Atlantic.

Janosch Delcker and Cristiano Lima for Politico:

One big reason: Western governments are embracing this technology for their own use, valuing security and data collection over privacy and civil liberties…

The result is an impasse that has left tech companies largely in control of where and how to deploy facial recognition, which they have sold to police agencies and embedded in consumers’ apps and smartphones. The stalemate has persisted even in Europe’s most privacy-minded countries, such as Germany, and despite a bipartisan U.S. alliance of civil-libertarian Democrats and Republicans… “The use of facial recognition technology poses a staggering threat to Americans’ privacy,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who is prepping legislation to crack down on the software, said in June…

In Washington, a once-promising bipartisan push in the House of Representatives to limit the federal government’s use of facial recognition has stalled for unrelated reasons, including the death of former House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and acrimony over impeachment. And in the Senate, more limited proposals to rein in federal agencies’ use of the technology have been slow to pick up support…

At the same time, companies like Facebook, Apple and Google have built facial recognition into their most popular devices, for instance as a means of unlocking phones or automatically tagging friends in photos.

MacDailyNews Take: Unfortunately, nowhere in the full article do the authors point out, or even seem to realize, that Apple’s use of facial recognition – unlike other companies mentioned – respects users’ privacy because Face ID data is encrypted and protected with a key available only to the Secure Enclave within the devices themselves. Face ID data doesn’t leave your device and is never backed up to iCloud or anywhere else.


  1. MDN’s take is true. Is it coincidence that it’s apolitical? 😉

    But if you haven’t seen the video clip of Elon Musk riffing about how a facial recognition chip coupled with an attack drone could recognize and kill people in crowds, I’d recommend it. It raises the specter of high-tech fascist crack-downs on protesters, which is hair-raising no matter your political leanings.

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