Agency Watchdog Calls on Labor Department to Check Facial Recognition Use
The Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General has issued a memo urging “immediate attention” to potential equity and security issues around the use of facial recognition in unemployment insurance benefits programs. Specifically, the OIG flagged the use of third-party identity checkers and called on the agency to exercise “extreme caution” so that the technology does not discriminate against claimants.
According to the agency watchdog, a 2019 memo from the National Institutes of Standards and Technology showed that facial recognition algorithms exhibit a race and gender bias. NIST also noted that photograph quality could affect accuracy, which could impact applicants with darker skin tones or lower-quality cameras.
The OIG recommended that more thorough guidance be provided to states. Brent Parton, an acting assistant secretary at the Labor Department, said the agency would follow a recommendation to require a non-digital alternative to online identity verification.
Fraudsters had been utilizing stolen personal data to take advantage of Congress-boosted state unemployment programs during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to state administrations increasingly tapping contractors to conduct identity verification, Nextgov reported Thursday.
Category: Federal Civilian
Tags: Department of Labor facial recognition federal civilian identity verification Nextgov