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Communications of the ACM

ACM Opinion

We're Banning Facial Recognition. We're Missing the Point.

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facial recognition, illustration

Credit: Ariel Davis

Communities across the United States are starting to ban facial recognition technologies. In May of last year, San Francisco banned facial recognition; the neighboring city of Oakland soon followed, as did Somerville and Brookline in Massachusetts (a statewide ban may follow). Forty major music festivals pledged not to use the technology, and activists are calling for a nationwide ban.

These efforts are well intentioned, but facial recognition bans are the wrong way to fight against modern surveillance. Focusing on one particular identification method misconstrues the nature of the surveillance society we're in the process of building. Ubiquitous mass surveillance is increasingly the norm.

In all cases, modern mass surveillance has three broad components: identification, correlation, and discrimination.

From The New York Times
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