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Lack of rules could lead to abuse of facial ID technology

Most shoppers in Texas are accustomed to the use of surveillance cameras in stores. However, some businesses are going a step further and creating digital records based on collected facial recognition data. Many stores are using this technology for security purposes to deter shoplifting and share accumulated data. This means someone perceived to be a security threat at one location could be barred from shopping at other businesses in that same data network.

While shop owners generally welcome facial recognition technology, privacy advocates are concerned about the potential for overreach and abuse of data. The American Civil Liberties Union stresses the need to rein in this technology with appropriate regulations. Revenue from facial recognition is anticipated to reach approximately $10 billion. However, gaps in standards allow businesses to capture customers' images without their knowledge.

Many facial recognition providers do not ask customers how they plan to use such technology because there is no requirement for them to do so. One company even has facial ID cameras that preemptively catalog all captured images to create a security watchlist. Because cloud-based systems are often used, collected data is inherently multi-location. Furthermore, people do not have to be convicted of a crime to be placed on watchlists. One company shares its security data with local law enforcement officials. Police can then tap into live footage and determine if they want to act based on what they are seeing.

If facial recognition results in a false arrest, a criminal defense attorney may question the accuracy of the technology. Also, police need a warrant to track an individual's whereabouts. However, authorities may get around this limitation with the use of facial ID technology. This lack of regulation presents new challenges for lawyers looking to identify possible violations of clients' rights.

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