Summary of Resisting the Rise of Facial Recognition

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Resisting the Rise of Facial Recognition summary

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Smartphone security, passport control, police investigations: These uses of facial recognition technology (FRT) generally make people’s life easier and safer. Yet with the advent of COVID-19, the use of FRT has taken a more sinister turn. Some governments have started to use live surveillance to monitor people’s movements and enforce lockdowns. As the rollout of FRT accelerates, regulations to control its application are playing catch-up – and are mostly insufficient to safeguard people’s privacy and freedom. Antoaneta Roussi and Richard Van Noorden’s article is a disconcerting and important read.

About the Authors

Antoaneta Roussi is a freelance journalist and writer based in Nairobi, Kenya. Additional reporting by Richard Van Noorden, a features editor at Nature Research.


The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the rollout of automated facial recognition technology (FRT).

People have become familiar with the use of facial recognition technology (FRT) at borders, on their smartphones and in criminal investigations. Increasingly, cities all over the world are also implementing this technology to prevent and solve crimes.

This wider rollout has accelerated since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some countries such as Russia, China, South Korea and India, have set up FRT video surveillance systems in their cities to help them monitor people’s movement and enforce lockdowns.

Researchers and rights activists are questioning...

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