NetChoice, a trade association committed to the use of technology that fosters free enterprise and free expression, today launched a campaign to protect the use of new technologies, such as facial recognition, for law enforcement in Massachusetts.
Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel of internet trade association NetChoice, which advocates for Section 230, said that part of the issue is the sheer amount of content that filters through the platforms. For example, Facebook’s moderators review more than 2 million pieces of content daily, according to a spokesperson, who also said by email that the company has tripled the number of people working on safety and security issues since 2016.
A similar restriction on law enforcement’s use of facial recognition could be enacted in Massachusetts, but trade association NetChoice has launched a campaign urging state lawmakers to reject a proposed moratorium.
A poll conducted by Savanta for NetChoice in August shows that 64 percent of Massachusetts residents believe facial recognition can make society safer, and 66 percent are against denying law enforcement the use of new technologies to fight crime. When asked if facial recognition should be limited even at the expense of public safety, 46 percent disagreed, while 34 percent agreed. In each case responses are split between “somewhat” and “strong” agreement and disagreement. Asked if they would support a politician that votes to prevent the use of facial recognition and other technologies by law enforcement, 22 percent said they would be more likely to, while 41 percent said they would be less likely to do so.
A recent survey from the Pew Research Center shows a majority of U.S. adults trust law enforcement to use facial recognition.
NetChoice has launched a petition calling on the proposal to be rejected as part of its campaign.
“Every day facial recognition technologies help law enforcement to generate leads in cases, such as homicide, rape, armed robbery and other violent crime, as well as for non-enforcement reasons, including identifying elderly persons stricken with dementia, finding lost and missing children, identifying homeless persons with mental illness and identifying deceased persons,” said NetChoice Vice President and General Counsel Carl Szabo in a statement by the organization.
“A moratorium on facial recognition technology not only goes against what Bay Staters want, it denies law enforcement tools needed to help keep our communities safe.”
Szabo has previously expressed at least tentative support for regulation aimed at increasing transparency around business use of facial biometrics in New York City.
THE FIGHT FOR FACIAL RECOGNITION — Tech trade group NetChoice launched an offensive in Massachusetts challenging a proposal to block state law enforcement from using facial recognition software. The technology has come under fire by privacy and civil liberties advocates who’ve raised alarm about potential flaws in facial recognition software and algorithmic biases that put minorities at a disadvantage. NetChoice and other industry groups have argued that the technology is central to law enforcement efforts to keep the public safe. (San Francisco in May became the first major American city to ban police and municipal agencies from using facial recognition.)
NetChoice, a business trade group focused on promoting free speech and free enterprise on the internet, launched a public campaign on Oct. 7 to defend law enforcement’s use of facial recognition technology, and is taking aim at anti-facial recognition effort in Massachusetts.
“Every day facial recognition technologies help law enforcement to generate leads in cases, such as homicide, rape, armed robbery, and other violent crime, as well as for non-enforcement reasons, including identifying elderly persons stricken with dementia, finding lost and missing children, identifying homeless persons with mental illness and identifying deceased persons,” said Carl Szabo, the group’s vice president and general counsel.
NetChoice’s stance on the issue stands in opposition to an ongoing push from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Massachusetts.
Today, NetChoice criticized a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that threatens free speech around the world.
The ruling would aim to force Facebook to remove content on its platform worldwide if it’s found to be illegal in Europe, regardless of whether the content is legal elsewhere.
“This ruling sets a dangerous precedent enabling illiberal countries to enforce anti-free speech laws beyond their borders,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice.
“As some foreign governments stifle free expression on internet platforms, it becomes even more important for the United States to protect and advance laws like Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.”
“I’m glad the United States respects the right of citizens to criticize its leaders. Our founders knew such freedoms of speech are necessary to create a stable democracy.”
“Freedom of expression is core to Western, liberal democracies. Today’s EJC decision embraces the China-model of a closed internet, the model heralded by authoritarian governments.”
The problems have compounded in the era of online sales, which are taxed based on the customer’s delivery address, resulting in a complicated sales tax system whose flaws raise the ire of local governments and retailers alike. “If Home Depot is having trouble with sales tax complexities, imagine the troubles that small businesses are confronting all over the country,” says Steve DelBianco, president of NetChoice, a trade association of online and tech businesses.