A Case for Banning Facial Recognition

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Facial recognition software program is perhaps the world’s most divisive know-how.

Law enforcement businesses and a few firms use it to establish suspects and victims by matching pictures and video with databases like driver’s license data. But civil liberties teams say facial recognition contributes to privateness erosion, reinforces bias in opposition to black folks and is liable to misuse.

San Francisco and a significant supplier of police physique cameras have barred its use by regulation enforcement, and IBM on Monday backed away from its work on this space. Some proposals to restructure police departments name for tighter restrictions on their use of facial recognition.

Timnit Gebru, a frontrunner of Google’s moral synthetic intelligence staff, defined why she believes that facial recognition is just too harmful for use proper now for regulation enforcement functions. These are edited excerpts from our digital dialogue on the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society on Monday.

Google’s Gmail is so popular in large part because its artificial intelligence is effective at filtering out spam. But it does little to combat another nuisance: email tracking.

The trackers come in many forms, like an invisible piece of software inserted into an email or a hyperlink embedded inside text. They are frequently used to detect when someone opens an email and even a person’s location when the message is opened.

When used legitimately, email trackers help businesses determine what types of marketing messages to send to you, and how frequently to communicate with you. This emailed newsletter has some trackers as well to help us gain insight into the topics you like to read about, among other metrics.

But from a privacy perspective, email tracking may feel unfair. You didn’t opt in to being tracked, and there’s no simple way to opt out.

Fortunately, many email trackers can be thwarted by disabling images from automatically loading in Gmail messages. Here’s how to do that:

  • Inside Gmail.com, look in the upper right corner for the icon of a gear, click on it, and choose the “Settings” option.

  • In the settings window, scroll down to “Images.” Select “Ask before displaying external images.”

With this setting enabled, you can prevent tracking software from loading automatically. If you choose, you can agree to load the images. This won’t stop all email tracking, but it’s better than nothing.

Bonus tech tip! Some readers asked for more help setting up notifications that can alert you to fraudulent credit card charges. Signing up for these is not easy because, let’s face it, financial websites are not the simplest to use.

On the apps and websites for the credit cards I have, I found these alerts in menus labeled “Profile and Settings” or “Help & Support.” Look for “Alerts” or dig into the privacy and security options. Sign up for an email or app notification each time your card is used to make a purchase online and over the phone.

Most of the time, those purchases are from you. But you want to know right away in the (hopefully) rare times when they’re not.

Hugs to this

NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour recently introduced to me the whimsical mini children’s stories that the writer Anne Louise Avery composes on Twitter.

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