FACEBOOK SCRAPS FACE RECOGNITION
Social media app Facebook has announced it will be scrapping facial recognition software on its platform.
The software was used to identify individuals who had been tagged in photos and over one billion individual facial recognition templates had been stored, all of which are now set for deletion.
Meta’s head of AI, Jerome Pesenti, said the software was useful in cases such as identity theft, as well as to help blind users identify when they appeared in pictures online. However, critics had raised concerns over privacy and user consent.
“Every new technology comes with costs and benefits. We believe that how to balance these in the case of facial recognition is a debate that should happen in the open, and among the people most affected by it,” Pesenti said in a statement on Twitter.
“Regulators are also still working to create clear rules governing use of the technology. So we’re going to limit our use of it to a narrow set of cases.”
Despite this restriction on facial recognition technology on Facebook, parent company Meta has not ruled out using the software in its proposed “Metaverse” virtual reality social media platform, currently under development.
MPs QUESTION TECH FIRMS OVER ONLINE SAFETY
Chair of the Treasury Committee, Mel Stride, has written to tech giants Microsoft, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok over their efforts to crack down on online fraud.
Stride has asked the companies what rules they have in place over advertising of investment opportunities, how much money they receive from these types of adverts and what policies they have in place to compensate individuals who are scammed through fraudulent content that is shown on their platforms by third parties.
“It’s clear that fraud is rapidly rising and ruining people’s lives. Scammers seem to act with impunity online and their actions can have devastating consequences,” Stride said.
“Without coordinated action, I fear many more people will sadly fall victim to these scammers.”
The letter comes as Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries, has raised the prospect of speeding up prosecution and jail sentences for tech company executives whose operations fall short of the requirements of the Online Safety Bill.
Under the current provisions of the Bill, it is proposed that executives have a two-year grace period to comply before becoming at risk of criminal sanctions, but Dorries has vowed to shorten this time to “around six months.”
“People like Mark Zuckerberg and Nick Clegg and others, who are wanting to take off into the Metaverse, my advice would be ‘stay in the real world’,” Dorries said.
“This bill will become an Act very, very soon, and it is the algorithms that do the harm and you will be accountable to this Act.”
RISE IN ONLINE CHILD SEXUAL OFFENCES
Child sexual offences involving an online element have risen by 80% in Northern Ireland over the past three years, data obtained by the NSPCC show.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSCI) recorded 308 separate offences in the period 2020-2021, representing a record high.
Detective Superintendent Gary Reid said he feared the actual number of sexual offences committed against children could be much higher.
“Many children are unable to raise the alarm to a trusted adult as they are not even aware that they are being manipulated,” Reid said.
The news comes after funding for an online safety strategy in Northern Ireland has been postponed to next year. The NSPCC has called for funding to be granted urgently.
“We really need to see the Northern Ireland Executive showing that it takes this threat to our children’s safety online seriously and fully funding and implementing this strategy without any further delay,” NSPCC’s public affairs spokesperson Natalie Whelehan said, speaking on BBC Good Morning Ulster.
Gooseberry Planet offers a whole school approach to online safety including game-based learning, digital workbooks and comprehensive reporting. Visit our website for more details.