tv Washington Journal Drew Harwell CSPAN May 30, 2019 2:34am-3:09am EDT
reinventing itself. >> watch the cities tour this saturday at noon eastern and c-span3. 2:00 p.m. on cable affiliates. post technology reported drew harwell joins us now for a discussion about the facial recognition technology you just saw about the legal and ethical debate surrounding it. before we get to that, first explain how this technology is being incorporated into law enforcement and the security sectors, and how widespread it is right now. policedeputies and across the country, the traditional way they would get camera or video footage of a robbery or some witness catching somebody on camera, was they would pass it around to other deputies and law enforcement and say, anybody recognize this
person? it was a very porous investigative technique. now with facial recognition, they are able to upload the photo or video, almost like a google search, and the system will spit out a couple different possibilities of identification, and they will be pulling from different databases of mugshots. it is a way for investigators to quickly identify somebody from photos that came from somewhere, and hopefully speed along the investigation. host: on the ground of washington county, oregon, you were in the sheriff's office there. take us through a typical day in a case that uses this technology. guest: yeah, this is outside of portland, oregon. they are the first to use amazon's facial recognition service. for them, a deputy on the scene will get a call about a robbery. maybe a store will have surveillance footage of somebody
who stole a bottle of wine. the deputy can get that photo or theo, upload that into computer, and in a couple seconds the system will spit out five potential matches based off of the former mugshots they have had, photos they have had from the jail. it pulls 300,000 mugshots and somebody the system thinks looks like that search, or, sorry, we cannot find anybody. host: when you say system, this is not a system that the sheriff's office built itself. explain what they are using. rekognamazon created ition, with a k. the sheriffs office uses its internal website. there is different serpents -- surveillance contractors.
they make it very quick and very easy for these deputies to really quickly identify somebody from afar without their knowledge or consent. amazone should note that founder jeff bezos, also the owner of "the washington post," that you note that disclosure when writing about amazon how many sheriff's office's, how many police department around the country are doing what is being done in washington county, oregon? guest: a couple dozen departments, may be, across the country, are using it, a couple big cities including new york. office's,r sheriff's including in washington county, oregon. the crimes are different, but use cases are similar. the other thing is, we do not have a ton of transparency into how many organizations are using this technology.
there is no real federal regulations. no stipulation that these sheriff's office's have to say we are using it or we are not. we invite you to call in a few have questions about facial recognition technology and how it is being used. the phone lines are being put up regionally. if you are in the eastern or central time zone, it is 202-748-8000. central or pacific, 202-748-8001 . you can start calling in now. drew harwell, how many federal laws currently deal with this issue and this technology? guest: zero p that is something that civil rights and privacy advocates are questioning. why don't we have a strong about a technology that dozens of law enforcement agencies are using to investigate, identify, and
arrest people? this is technology that is brought into the courtroom, brought into the jail, as part of how people get arrested, yet there are no real federal guidelines for which deputies can search, how they scan -- how they can search, the quality of the images they use. there is the potential abuse of the system, and these worries, , is thisader concerns the country we want to live in, where surveillance is heightened, or police can identify anybody from afar? all of these questions of big brother or these worries, and these worries over what we see in china, how this is an important part of social control and government surveillance. does amazon, does some of these other companies that are creating their own technologies that are going into use -- do they want a federal regulatory
scheme, or are they fine with continuing as things are right now? guest: all of the companies have different platforms, but a lot of them, including amazon, have said we need a national legislative framework. we need some rules around this because right now we are flying blind. is, what thee rules will look like and how soon they want them. a lot of agencies say we need to ban it outright or put a moratorium until we have a better understanding on what the best practices are. companies like amazon are saying this is effective for police right now. it is not an appropriate use to pull it back. we need a legislative framework as we continue to use this technology. host: there is an important discussion at a recent house oversight and government reform committee hearing on this technology. this is a clip of congresswoman
alexandria ocasio-cortez asking a person who came to testify about this very issue. [video clip] >> we saw these algorithms are effective in different degrees. are they most effective on women? >> no. >> are they most effective on people of color? >> absolutely not. >> are they effective on people of different gender discretion? who are the primary engineers and designers of the algorithms? >> definitely white men. >> so we have a technology that by oneated and designed demographic that is most effective on that demographic, and they are trying to sell it and impose it on the entirety of the country? >> we have data that is being used as something that is not
universal when it comes to representing the full spectrum of humanity. [end video clip] harwell, were you at that hearing? she is an m.i.t. researcher, well-regarded in this space. she did landmark research about the accuracy of facial recognition systems when it comes to skin color and gender per not all faces are treated the same by these systems, and a large part of that is because of the data that was set into the system to train them in the first place. a lot of images of white men. the system learned to refine those kinds of things better than others. --joint research is sort of the suggestion that these systems are not perfect, and any imperfection can lead to a false arrest. that is a dangerous scenario and a precedent that we are going to. host: drew harwell is a technology reporter with "the washington post co. a good time to call in his right now.
at can see his work washingtonpost.com. itter.on tw vicki is calling from twin falls, idaho. caller: good morning. this technology, and more importantly the systems behind theare all part of what u.s. government has built, which is a police state, a secret police state. , it surveillance technology can be a database of photos that anybody takes because the government partners with the private sector. people that are called data aggregators, that just collect information on people so that there is information in a database about them. so while they are presenting these technologies to be just
used by the police, it can be used by anybody. a very dangerous thing. in fact, the entire -- and it is a very dangerous thing. in fact, the entire infrastructure that has been built or surveilled and track and keep -- that has been built to surveilled and track and keep tabs is hugely important. of the system that all dictators in the entire world would have just loved to have. host: got your point. drew harwell? guest: those are the concerns a lot of people are sharing. before we had fingerprints, we had that level, very low technology that allowed deputies to identify people under some very specific scenarios. now this technology can identify anybody from afar, can identify people in a crowd. you do not need the person of interest to know they are being
surveilled. these are important questions. you talk about resistance. explain what is happening in san francisco? guest: san francisco became the first city in america to ban andrnment and local, city, police use of facial recognition technology. it was a change for san francisco, symbolic in that san francisco is the heart of the tech community in america. it felt like here are the people building the system, and they are also the first to say we do not want it surveilling us. and there are other cities in other communities, and california and massachusetts as well, that are suggesting that other bans can be appropriate. i think we are seeing these technologies expand quicker than the laws are responding. host: preuss is next, in
florida. good morning. -- bruce is next, in florida. good morning. caller: this is my first time calling into c-span. i watch you guys all the time. hitlers use to use -- ibm.o use -- thetoos on were from the jews that technology. it has not changed. it has just gotten more technology. host: bruce, would you be in technologynning this , the use of this technology, as we just heard about in san francisco? a heartbeat.es, in because what is going to happen
is -- like the lady before me -- it is going to be used not for good but for bad. always for bad. it is never for good use. host: take us to some of the reaction of the sheriff's sergeant deputies you talked -- the sheriff's sergeant deputies you talked to, how they use this and how they see it? guest: with every technology, there are good and bad uses. you see the deputies and people who are supportive of that community saying this is a way that our deputies cannot just have more accurate investigations, quicker arrests of the bad guys, but also potentially make them safer by knowing who they are looking at when they scan them. so there is that side of the debate. on the flipside, there is a similar amount of passion of people saying this is a step too far. as the callers have noted, this is an extremely powerful
technology that governments can use or misuse, that governments are currently using across the world to surveil populations. in the middle, is the general public that can see the benefits but are also worried about the harms. i think that is why it may be an inappropriate time that lawmakers are considering, how do we want to weigh in? host: can you talk about how it is being incorporated for personal security uses? not for the law-enforcement side, but for private citizens? guest: a lot of people know bout facial recognition is through the iphone. you can install a doorbell camera so that you can allow people access. it can also be used in schools right now. a number of schools are using this at the doorways to flag when somebody comes in who is
maybe not committed -- not permitted on the school grounds -- and expelled student or a troublesome parent. what is happening is that this , a lot of is so cheap organizations are rolling it out and only now confronting the ethical and moral questions that go along with it. host: how many schools, and where? guest: we do not have a good number, but it is growing quickly. last year it was more than a dozen, maybe two dozen. all of them used different systems, but it is rolling out quite quickly there there are private schools around the northeast, including in new york state. you are seeing it in community centers and playgrounds. this is something that anyone with a normal surveillance camera can pretty easily update the software, so a lot of administrators are saying we want the security, too. host: just about 10 or 15 minutes left with drew harwell. the discussion about facial
recognition technology. call 202-748-8000 if you're in eastern time zone, 202-748-8001 for central. reports that are you will have to renew your driver's license on saturday, get your new photo id with a star on it. does this have anything to do with photo identification? guest: i don't know about the photo id with a star on it, but i do know this is an important how they want security at the airports. numbers an increasing adding facial recognition kiosks at the gate. in some scenarios, you do not
necessarily need a ticket. you just look into the camera and get your face scanned, and then you go into the airplane. it is only at a couple of terminals right now, but within dhs wantsour years, air traveldomestic is flying out of the country. also, citizens of the u.s. can opt out of that at the gate, so you should know that. but i think they just realize that they want to be using the technology as well. they feel like it is an important way to know who is leaving the country, when looking at visa overstay issues. this is not going away. suggestions of how this should be used by lawmakers, it is being deployed now, and they are asking questions later. host: from boulder, colorado.
good morning. caller: good morning. i was calling since you mentioned there is no regulation currently, what amazon does about any self-regulation or thinking about how to limit the technology, as to who has access and who can use it. also, side question, any comment about the use of this technology in china? are there any lessons we can learn from that? guest: great questions. the first one, you hit it on the nose. it is self-regulation right now. amazon has set up their own set of rules, and their clients, like the washing county sheriffs's office, have their own set of rules as well. the sheriff's office does not want to use it for mass surveillance. they cannot use it for profiling of anybody, or for all men or all women or racial and religious groups. it is all self-regulation.
that is limited because they are the ones enforcing the rules. amazon has their own guidelines online, but what they do when are're are -- when there abuses of that -- and amazon has said there are no abuses, but that is a question for later. we do see this in china. use faciale first to recognition. -- see it in limited rays limited ways, naming and shaming jaywalkers in different parts of china. they will put your face up on effectively a tv billboard and they will say we see you doing this. it is also being used in a much more concerning way, with the muslim leader population. it is being used in what u.s. intelligence is saying reeducation camps. that is concerning because it shows that a government with
enough interest and enough money and technology can keep closer tabs on their people than ever. i think when the government has that level of power, there are all sorts of questions about the rights we have in the u.s., the first amendment rights that we have to peaceably assemble. and protections from unreasonable searches. those are quickly becoming global questions as we face this technology's rollout. host: thomas is in west springfield, massachusetts. good morning. caller: good morning. host: go ahead with your comment or question, thomas. caller: i'm calling about facial recognition. i have no problem with it, the
only people who should be using it are law-enforcement agencies when dealing with criminals. guest: that is a big defense, that the only people concerned about it are those who have something to hide. the potential for misidentification, for seeing somebody who is innocent as somebody who is guilty, to be a wanted fugitive or somebody who identified asly being a criminal caught on tape, i think those are worries for everybody. thatnow, it is something some public defenders have told me, who are looking at this on the ground, saying it is all easy to think about when you are thinking it is affecting criminals, but it really affects all of us. your i am wondering about thoughts about this comment on
twitter. people do not do the easy things that they can use to protect their privacy. they get on facebook and provided daily report of everything they do, everywhere they go. said, thehave internet, lots of data about ourselves. selfies and that kind of thing. but i also think that it is impossible to totally guard against this kind of surveillance because these are our faces. these are the things we present to the world every day. unless you wear a mask day and night, this is a system that can affect you as well. host: janine in kentucky, good morning. concerneds, i am about the tsa and the new generation of identification that is being used on our driver's license, and that has been mandated by the state of kentucky last year. if you go to get a drivers license, you get a choice of a real id which gives you a gold
star. once you put that gold star on that driver's license that the new generation identification with the facial recognition, that will be used for a multitude of other issues. also i believe it is not reliable and is not valid. it stinks. it takes away our constitutional rights and our common law, biometrics does. it violates our due process, fourth amendment, of assembly. arees rights, which we sovereign states. the federal government is controlling our life over and over and over, and it has got to stop. this basically came from the idl id, from the 2005 real resolution, and they are already doing this throughout the entire world. and amazon, we have become their commodity, and for this to be based on white men only, this is a true violation of our rights as people to live free. and if you give up some of your
security for freedom, you will have neither. host: that is janine this morning on the real id, the nationwide law that everyone boarding a federally commercially regulated aircraft, will need real id or some other acceptable form of id, i october 1, 2020. -- by october 1, 2020. guest: this shows how pivotal the federal government believes this technology is, to understanding where its citizens are and when they come and go. all of those concerns are real ones. you are hearing them from a lot of people. one other frustration is that kiosks are appearing in airports without people realizing they were being rolled out in the first place. the subtleties and how quiet this technology has exploded, really -- it has caught some
people off guard. considering the real dynamics and the real power of a technology like this that can be potentially used against people -- i think people are coming to terms with that, that this is something i want to know more about. host: lots of callers for you. from south carolina, chris. caller: good morning. my question is, with walmart, they have this when you check out at the cash register -- it is taking a picture of you on camera, and it is recording your picture id and the credit card you used, and it is going into the system. and how that is linked to facebook and other stuff like that is, where is that information going, and who is allowed access to that information where they can track you and what you -- where you go and everything else. get the credit card, facial recognition.
that facial recognition that they got -- are they building it? what is happening to it? and can they connect that with you as a christian, or if you are an african-american, or whatever you are, can they use that illegally to follow you and stuff like that? guest: all good questions. i am not specifically sure what walmart is doing, but you are right. it is something you are seeing more in walmart and a lot of stores. with some of these sheriff's office is that they are getting some of these photos and videos. maybe somebody will check out, act like they are paying, and walk out. those high definition images that walmart and other stores are capturing, they send them right to the police department, which can then use facial recognition. right now we are seeing lots of deployed, not all of them with facial recognition. retail is a big market for this,
not just police, but a lot of businesses are wanting to put this in, not just for safeguarding and protecting against shoplifting, but also knowing a little bit more about the people who shop there and where they are going and what kind of demographics they are. i think we are seeing this happen a lot more, with big box stores as well. there is a huge amount of traffic coming into our store. we want to know who these people are and potentially make something -- make it into something that will give us a business advantage. host: our next caller is from illinois. caller: i was going to make the exact same walmart point. i also would question -- what are the numbers in terms of the accuracy? can you put on glasses or a fake mustache and fool this --hnology that simply echo that simply? guest: the algorithms are highly variable in how accurate they are. sometimes glasses and a mustache
will not be able to fool the system. but a lot of factors play into it. a lot of surveillance cameras sort of looked down at people, the profiles very different. a lot of cameras shoot at different quality. the quality of the image ends up being a huge determining factor in how accurate it can bp review can potentially be identified or -- it can be. you can potentially be identified differently depending on how the light was that day, whether or not you have a hat on. all of this contributes to broader worries as to, are we rolling out technology that we are confident in the search results, when really it is just as inaccurate as anything else. host: sadie, st. petersburg, florida. good morning. caller: good morning. thanks for taking my call. the question is, i have an hp
laptop. it goes completely by facial recognition. it had me take a bunch of , and different scenarios, like with my glasses, without my glasses. so how is hp using this, to follow up on mr. north carolina? seriously, are they selling it? specificallyt know about hp. i know a lot of companies are using this, whether a phone or a computer or something else -- they say they do not sell the data, and sometimes they do not even transmit that data to the company server. it is an image that the laptop can no. -- can know. but these images are saved somewhere. are on the laptop
or whether they are on a server of a large company -- as we have seen, in a number of cases over the last five or 10 years, the data can travel very quickly without really our knowledge, so there are worries from people saying, look at these huge databases and the things that are being created every day around the country. who can look at those photos? what can be done with those? weigheds have not truly in on that, and i think that would be a big question. host: you can see drew harwell's reporting in "the washington >> c-span's washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up this morning, we will discuss robert mueller statement on the russia pro. afghanistan special investor general will be on to talk about
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