‘ETHICAL BIOMETRICS’ AND THE FACE OF THE CHILD: THE SURVEILLANCE OF CHILDREN WITHIN FACIAL RECOGNITION INDUSTRY DISCOURSE
AbstractIn this paper we analyse data gathered through facial recognition tradeshow ethnographies and interviews with members of the biometrics industry, as we consider recent shifts in industry discourse towards promoting the ‘ethical’ use of biometric technology. As the biometrics industry increasingly moves towards a ‘Video Surveillance as a Service’ (VSaaS) model, the study of facial recognition infrastructures is becoming a crucial aspect of the interrogation of the Internet of Things. We demonstrate that the facial recognition industry is acutely aware of critiques of facial recognition cameras and biometric technologies as enabling social harms related to intrusiveness and bias (see Stark, 2019), and that members of the industry are keen to promote a more prosocial public image of the technology. Towards this end we find that biometric monitoring of children has gained a prominent place in the promotion of facial recognition technologies as a mode of ‘careful’ surveillance. We identify three key ‘use cases’ in which the face of the child takes on a prominent role as justifying and legitimating the use of facial recognition technologies – in the auditing of humanitarian food supply programs, in the detection of so-called ‘staging’ of family units at the US border, and in the detection of underage gambling in Australia. We argue that the immanent ‘ethical’ framing of the child’s face in this context serves to obscure the political ramifications of the extension of facial recognition and of biometric surveillance tools more broadly.
How to Cite
O’Neill, C. A., Andrejevic, M., Selwyn, N., Gu, X., & Smith, G. (2021). ‘ETHICAL BIOMETRICS’ AND THE FACE OF THE CHILD: THE SURVEILLANCE OF CHILDREN WITHIN FACIAL RECOGNITION INDUSTRY DISCOURSE. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2021. https://doi.org/10.5210/spir.v2021i0.12222