October 11, 2021
The OSTP is seeking comments from academics, HR professionals, and AI specialists
The Biden administration is seeking feedback on its plans to regulate AI-enabled biometric tech.
A federal notice posted over the weekend requests views on the use of “biometric technologies for the purposes of identity verification, identification of individuals, and inference of attributes including individual mental and emotional states.”
“To date, attention and legislation around AI-enabled biometric technologies has largely focused on the specific case of facial recognition technology used to identify individuals in law enforcement and in public and private settings,” the notice reads.
“However, there are a growing number of domains that are beginning to make use of biometric information for identification or inference of emotion, disposition, character, or intent.”
The request for information states that there are “many concerns” with regards to the use of this technology, ranging from differential effectiveness to potentially detrimental impact on different demographic groups.
The US Office of Science and Technology Policy, part of the Executive Office of the president, is seeking views from across the industry on scope, security considerations, and harms related to AI-enabled biometric systems.
It is also requesting ideas for governance programs, best practices, and safeguards against anticipated and unanticipated misuse or harms.
Views are sought from academic researchers; technical practitioners specializing in AI and biometrics; and the general public.
Tech can only work for everyone if everyone is included
The call for comments will eventually lead to a legal framework designed to “guard against the powerful technologies we have created,” Eric Lander and Alondra Nelson, the director and deputy director of OSTP, wrote in an op-ed published by Wired.
“Our country should clarify the rights and freedoms we expect data-driven technologies to respect,” they wrote, stating that humans should have a “right to know when and how AI is influencing a decision that affects your civil rights and civil liberties.”
“In the coming months, the White House OSTP will be developing such a bill of rights, working with partners and experts across the federal government, in academia, civil society, the private sector, and communities all over the country.”
“Technology can only work for everyone if everyone is included.”
Biometric ban: following the trend?
Meanwhile in the EU, the proposed ‘Artificial Intelligence Act’ would categorize all AI systems in terms of the risk they pose to citizens' privacy, livelihoods, and rights.
Any system determined to be posing ‘unacceptable risk’ would be outright banned, while those deemed ‘high risk’ would be subject to strict obligations before they can be put on the market.
The EU’s prospective legislation also bars law enforcement agencies from using remote biometric identification systems in publicly accessible spaces without clear and specific reason.
Shortly before the OSTP revealed its plans, the World Economic Forum and INTERPOL published a series of best practices for law enforcement agencies using facial recognition technologies.
The document includes a set of principles that define what constitutes the responsible use of facial recognition in criminal investigations, and a self-assessment questionnaire detailing the requirements that law enforcement agencies must respect to ensure compliance with the principles for action.
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