More than Half in US Believe Police Will Use Facial Recognition Responsibly

News Police Facial Recognition Featured

Immediately upon reading this headline you should be asking, “Okay, but what about the other half?” If it was an overwhelming majority, the headline would have said so. So how many people don’t trust law enforcement to use facial recognition responsibly?

The figure isn’t quite as dire as it suggests. It’s true, a poll suggests more than half trust the police with facial recognition, 56 percent do. However, there is not 44 percent who don’t. Only 29 percent don’t. But the groups that simply can’t be trusted with facial recognition is not surprisingly tech companies and advertisers.

Facial Recognition Trust

From reading the comments on these types of articles at Make Tech Easier, we know that there are people who don’t trust anyone with anything tech-related. But it’s interesting to see who is more trusted and how many people in total are untrusting.

The Pew Research Center conducted this survey of trust with relation to facial recognition.

The categories actually aren’t as cut and dry as do you or don’t you. 17 percent of respondents to the survey trust law enforcement “a great deal” with facial recognition data, while 39% trust them “somewhat.” 17 percent trust them “not so much,” while 12 percent trust them “not at all.”

Looking at the data we’re discussing here, facial recognition data could give someone the key to basically open your entire life, depending on what you trust to facial recognition software.

It makes sense that many people trust law enforcement with that, but while 17 percent isn’t a lot, when you’re talking trust in law enforcement, that number is kind of striking, but now take in the other number. 29 percent do not trust law enforcement with their private data.

And now take in the next number. 68 percent of people do not 100% trust the police with their private identifying information. That number makes a statement.

News Police Facial Recognition Face Id

Let’s jump to tech companies. Only 5 percent trust them a great deal with facial recognition. 31 percent somewhat trust them. 30 percent don’t trust them very much and 20 percent do not trust them at all. That reputation is definitely something tech companies need to work on.

Not surprisingly, with advertisers these numbers are the most dire. Only 2 percent trust them a great deal. And I know there are many, many people right now who are wondering who those 2 percent are to place that much trust in advertisers.16 percent trust them somewhat, 34 percent do not trust them too much, and 33 percent do not trust them at all.

When examining the situations when it’s okay for facial recognition to be used, 59% find it acceptable for law enforcement to use it to assess security threats in public spaces.

36 percent believe it’s acceptable for apartment building landlords to use it to track who enters or leaves their buildings. In other words, many people don’t want their landlords following who goes in or out of their apartment.

Only 30 percent of people find it acceptable for companies to automatically track the attendance of employees. In other words, they trust their landlords more than their bosses.

Lastly, only 15 percent trust advertisers to use facial recognition to see how many people responded to public ad displays. Frankly, it’s surprising that number is even as high as 15.

Still a New Technology

It should be noted that facial recognition is still relatively new, so that leads to people being unsure of who or what to trust. Additionally, many protocols just haven’t been set up yet, but this data should help in determining who people will trust. The answer is hardly anyone is overly trustworthy, save for a group, such as police, who we should be able to trust in nearly any situation.

Do you agree with these survey results regarding facial recognition and trust? Where do you fall in this spectrum? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Laura Tucker
Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.

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