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Expert: Facial recognition is an issue we should all keep an eye on

Posted at 6:02 PM, Feb 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-21 18:19:50-05

CLEVELAND — The debate over the use of facial recognition rages on in the Buckeye State. After hitting the pause button on the controversial technology late last year, Ohio's attorney general is now trying to determine how to roll it back out.

"I know I am being watched everywhere I am," Rachel Munyembabazi. a student at Cleveland State said.

Munyembabazi said she is growing more concerned about the future.

"I feel like the technology is way too far and everything can happen, even in the toilet I feel that I'm being watched," Munyembabzi said.

Currently, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is crafting a plan to put tighter restrictions on who gets access to facial recognition technology.

"We are going to think about the privacy and civil liberties issues at the front end, as opposed to trying to mitigate them to the back end after you've installed the technology," said Brian Ray, Center for Cybersecurity and Privacy Protection at Cleveland State University.

Ray is among the panel of experts now providing a road map for the AG on how to better control the flow of personal information moving forward. The task force came up with more than a dozen proposed guidelines.

"There's still the possibility for error. If a mistake is made, obviously that can have tremendous, serious consequences," Ray said.

The ACLU of Ohio also has a seat at the table.

"What are they using it for? How long are they keeping this data? Who are they sharing it with?” said Gary Daniels from the ACLU of Ohio.

Daniels and his team are closely watching where things go from here.

"Once this kind of thing gets out of the box it's extremely difficult, if not impossible to put it back in. Surveillance technology, it always gets better, it always gets cheaper and as a result it gets more widespread," Daniels said.

The facial recognition market is projected to grow from $3.2 billion to $7 billion by 2024, according to Markets and Markets.

"The more it becomes normal and less objectionable, the less we begin to think carefully about the potential concerns for a use in a different context,” Ray said.

News 5 asked Daniels why someone who hasn’t committed a crime or hasn't previously been in trouble should they care if they’re being watched.

"The burden should not be on Americans or Ohioans to explain why they don't want to be surveilled around the clock by a variety of technologies, the burden should always be on government or law enforcement or what have you to say why they absolutely must do this," Daniels said.

Even though facial recognition is on hold in Ohio, Munyembabazi said there are still eyes everywhere and that makes her uneasy.

"Since day one, I know I am being watched," Munyembabazi said.

AG Yost will take several weeks to review the recommendations before making any decisions about Ohio's facial recognition program.
The previous restrictions on who uses the technology are still in place for now.

RELATED: Taskforce makes recommendations for Ohio's facial recognition program