Examining Facial Recognition, Temperature Screening, And Privacy Laws Around The World – ThermalPass: A Less Intrusive Solution

Earlier this year, there was a scathing report released by the Office of the Privacy Commission in Canada against U.S. firm Clearview AI that their facial-recognition technology resulted in mass surveillance of Canadians and violated federal and provincial laws governing personal information. According to the report, their facial recognition technology scraped billions of images of people from social media website across the internet and allowed their firm to work with law enforcement, financial institutions, and other clients to match photographs of unknown people against their database of more than three billion images for investigative purposes. The inquiry concluded that Clearview AI had “collected highly sensitive biometric information without the knowledge or consent of individuals.”

 “What Clearview does is mass surveillance and it is illegal,” said Daniel Therrien, Canada’s privacy commissioner. “It is an affront to individuals’ privacy rights and inflicts broad-based harm on all members of society, who find themselves continually in a police lineup. This is completely unacceptable.” Clearview issued a statement last July that it stopped providing its technology to Canadian customers after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Toronto Police Service were using its technology.

In an open letter also issued last July by a group of 77 privacy, human rights, and civil liberties advocates to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, the group called on the Canadian government to immediately enact a ban on the use of facial recognition surveillance for all federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies. “Facial recognition surveillance is invasive and inaccurate. This unregulated technology poses a threat to the fundamental rights of people in Canada,” said Tim McSorley, National Coordinator of the Ottawa-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG).

Let’s take a quick look at its use and governance in some other global jurisdictions:

Europe - remote biometric identification is banned under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), barring specific use cases including when it is of substantial public interest; considered the most "intrusive" form of facial recognition, its use is also governed by human rights law.

Unites States - In the absence of any federal law, cities and states have been leaders in regulating facial recognition. Illinois was ahead of its time in 2008, passing the Biometric Information Privacy Act, which restricts how private entities may collect and use biometric data, including facial scans. Washington State became the first to pass a law addressing the use of facial recognition by government authorities, including law enforcement. More and more momentum seems to be building to enact similar legislation in other states such as California, with surely more to come if a national policy is not firmly put in place.

Its use by U.S. law enforcement agencies in recent Black Lives Matter protests led to a public outcry with firms including IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft subsequently restricting or pausing sales of their facial recognition products.

Russia – national surveillance practices enable law enforcement agencies to access practically any data in the name of protecting public safety. As such, there have been numerous reports of authorities having relied on facial recognition technology to check for breaches of quarantine rules by potential COVID-19 carriers. In Moscow alone, there are reportedly over 100,000 facial recognition-enabled cameras in operation.

That last example particularly exemplifies the potential privacy concerns individual citizens may have regarding this technology and certainly should evoke further consideration from administrators looking to implement a temperature screening solution as part of their health and wellness safety protocols. This isn’t to say that every thermal camera temperature screening solutions provider enables facial recognition as part of their offering, but you’d be remiss to not inquire and weigh the implications, especially if you happen to be managing a setting dealing with youth and/or other vulnerable groups.

The ThermalPass is a touchless temperature screening solution that utilizes 24 medical-grade thermal sensors to take up to 1,200 readings per second, yielding a contactless temperature measurement that is accurate to within ±0.4°C (±0.72°F). It also adheres to individual privacy and recommended social distancing protocols (see the full list of features here).

If you or someone from your organization is interested in finding out more information about the ThermalPass or to request a quote, please visit https://www.thermalpass.com/.

ThermalPass is not making any express or implied claims that its product has the ability to eliminate, cure or contain the COVID-19 (or SARS-2 coronavirus) at this time. That said, it is a very compelling component in any healthcare institution’s COVID-19 toolbox to aid in the thoughtfulness of social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing/sanitizing protocols, and all of the other mindful and effective risk mitigation practices we’ve all been employing to help keep the pandemic under manageable control. distancing, mask wearing, hand washing/sanitizing protocols, and all of the other mindful and effective risk mitigation practices we’ve all been employing to help keep the pandemic under manageable control.