Facebook Isn’t Shutting Down Its Facial Recognition System After All – News @ Northeastern – News@Northeastern

Facebook recently announced that it would be shutting down its facial recognition system and deleting its store of face-scan data from the billion people who opted in to the system. In a press release from Meta, the newly minted parent company of Facebook, the vice president of artificial intelligence heralded the change as one of the largest shifts in facial recognition usage in the technologys history.

Ari E. Waldman is a professor of law and computer science. He is also the faculty director for Northeasterns Center for Law, Information and Creativity. Courtesy photo

But Northeastern legal scholars see it differently, and are renewing their calls for government oversight of facial recognition and other advanced technologies.

This is yet another example of Facebook misdirection, says Ari E. Waldman, professor of law and computer science at the university. Theyre deleting the face scans but keeping the algorithmic tool that forms the basis of those scans, and are going to keep using the tool in the metaverse.

Indeed, in an interview shortly after the announcement, Meta spokesperson Jason Grosse told a Vox reporter that the companys commitment not to use facial recognition doesnt apply to its metaverse productsa suite of interactive tools that Meta engineers are building to create a virtual, simulated environment layered over the physical one we interact in day to day.

What this announcement amounts to is that Facebook is throwing out the data they dont need anymore, says Waldman, who also serves as faculty director for Northeasterns Center for Law, Information and Creativity. This is like when your neighbor is playing music really loud, and they stop not because youre concerned about the sound, but because theyre done practicing.

Woodrow Hartzog is a professor of law and computer science at Northeastern University. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

While the announcement isnt the paradigm-shifting change its Meta authors might have users believe, it does have an upside, says Woodrow Hartzog, professor of law and computer science at Northeastern.

I appreciate the fact that this announcement gives a little bit more fuel for privacy advocates who argue that facial recognition is not inevitable, its not invaluable, and its not toothpaste thats out of the tubewe can change the way we use this technology, he says.

Far from signaling an end to widespread facial recognition technology, the move by Facebook may create a vacuum in the market that other tech companies will race to fill with their own databases of paired face-name data, Hartzog says. We may see other companies hit the accelerator now that theres a market opportunity opened up by Facebook, he says.

Together, the landscape of facial recognition and other biometric data collection software is one that requires lawmakers to create oversight, not rely upon tech companies to self-regulate, the law scholars say.

It shows that existing laws continue to drive a need for a more robust and stable regulatory framework for biometrics and other surveillance tools, Hartzog says.

For media inquiries, please contact Shannon Nargi at s.nargi@northeastern.edu or 617-373-5718.

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Facebook Isn't Shutting Down Its Facial Recognition System After All - News @ Northeastern - News@Northeastern

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