Cleaver Wants Industry Standards for Facial Recognition Technology
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) sent a letter on Tuesday to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) encouraging them to endorse industry standards and ethical best practices for the independent testing of demographic-based biases in facial recognition technology. Earlier this year, NIST conducted a study of face identification performance across a large, varied group of people. The study also examined the best technology as well, comparing the accuracy of state-of-the-art face recognition algorithms to human experts. Their result from this classic confrontation of human versus machine? Neither gets the best results alone. Maximum accuracy was achieved with a collaboration between the two. However, the ACLU found that Amazon’s facial recognition software -- which is already in use by some police departments -- was disproportionately inaccurate in identifying people of color. Cleaver penned a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos about this issue in May. In the letter to Dr. Walter Copan, NIST Director and U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology, Cleaver wrote, “The potential for illegal discrimination and/or unfair practices resulting from such bias continues to concern lawmakers.” Cleaver says that as technology and the tech industry as a whole continue to evolve, “it is imperative that standards are created to ensure that technology is being used responsibly and without the potential for discrimination.” Read his full letter to NIST here.