The privacy and freedom of ordinary citizens is under threat from facial recognition technology, according to the founders of the technology.

Brian Brackeen, the chief executive officer of the facial recognition software developer Kairos, has spoken out about the dangers of the technology being used by governments.

He believes that the technology may be used the wrong way.

He said that he has a “comprehensive understanding” of how the software works and a unique perspective that has shaped his positions about its uses.

“As a result, I (and my company) have come to believe that the use of commercial facial recognition in law enforcement or in government surveillance of any kind is wrong–and that it opens the door for gross misconduct by the morally corrupt”.

While everyone should be concerned about the misuse of facial recognition technology, people of colour should be particularly concerned, according to Mr Brackeen.

“Facial recognition technologies, used in the identification of suspects, negatively affects people of colour. To deny this fact would be a lie. And clearly, facial recognition-powered government surveillance is an extraordinary invasion of the privacy of all citizens–and a slippery slope to losing control of our identities altogether.”

In the current climate where many videos have emerged of police officers shooting people dead with impunity, the danger of misuse and misrepresentation is ever-present, according to Brackeen.

“I’ve been pretty clear about the potential dangers associated with current racial biases in face recognition, and open in my opposition to the use of the technology in law enforcement,” he said.

But racial bias, wrongful conviction and misidentification is only the tip of the iceberg.

Other governments have used it for more sinister purposes.

China, for example, is also using facial recognition to monitor the behavior of its citizens as part of its social credit system.

Brackeen wrote: “China is currently setting up a vast public surveillance network of systems that are utilizing face recognition to construct “social credit” systems, which rank citizens based on their behavior, queuing rewards and punishments depending on their scores.”

Some of the things citizens can be punished for include jaywalking, smoking in non-smoking area, and playing too many video games.

Failure to abide by the social credit system can lead to travel bans, public humiliation, job losses and loss of benefits.

“Imagine if America and its already terrifying record of racial disparity in the use of force by the police had the power and justification of someone being ‘socially incorrect’?” added Brackeen.

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