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France is trialing facial recognition tech that checks if people are wearing face masks

The tech will not be used to issue tickets to citizens in France.

facial recognition software and face masks
Image: Unsplash

With facial recognition software becoming more of a part of our daily lives, it was only a matter of time before companies starting using the technology to monitor the ongoing coronavirus and the face masks many of us are wearing when out in public.

The latest example of this comes from French tech company, Datakalab. Reported by Bloomberg, the company is using its facial recognition software to identify people wearing face masks as the country looks to lessen the restrictions on traveling in an effort to start reopening the country. One way France is planning on doing this is by requiring that citizens wear face masks when out in public.

Currently, the software from Datakalab can be found at the Chatelet-Les-Halles metro station, one of the largest metros in the country. It is located in Paris and millions of people use the metro per year. A spokesperson for RATP, the Paris metro authority, has noted that the technology will not be used to fine people.

Datakalab notes that it does not collect the data, nor is it stored, and there is a 15-minute delay window from when the data is gathered and then sent to authorities.

Even so, any time a conversation includes words like facial recognition, there are going to be some flags thrown, and rightfully so. Facial recognition is powerful and at any time only moments from being overly invasive. CNIL, which is in charge of privacy for the French government, feels the same way, with Bloomberg noting “[CNIL] raised concerns that this type of technology carries a risk that the identity of the people being analyzed could be reconstructed.”

Overall, it’s an interesting use of facial recognition technology, but the paranoid person inside of me worries about what it could lead to in the future.

What do you think? Are you ok with facial recognition software being used for something like this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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