Kamala Harris Presses Federal Government on Facial Recognition Technology Biases
Some facial recognition software programs, including Amazon’s Rekognition face-identifying software, have been the perpetrator of racial biases. That’s why Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) has written the FBI, Federal Trade Commission, and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) telling them they need to face up to the very real biases and risks that accompany the controversial tech. In the three letters provided, Harris, joined by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), pointed out recent research showing how facial recognition can produce or reinforce bias, or otherwise misfire. In July, the facial recognition software sold by Amazon mistakenly identified 28 members of Congress as people who had been arrested for crimes. The test misidentified people of color 39% of the time. Other lawmakers and authorities have sent letters to various companies and CEOs or held hearings, but Harris says there is also a need to advance the issue within the government as well. She also expressed concern over the growing automation of the employment process. Recruitment is a complex process and AI-based tools are being brought in at every stage. The Senators ask in each of the letters: have there been any complaints along these lines, or are there any obvious problems with the tech under current laws? If facial technology were to become mainstream, how should it be tested, and how would the EEOC validate that testing? The Senators request a timeline of how the Commission plans to look into this by September 28th. More here.