AiLECS Lab will create an ethically sourced facial biometric database to combat child abuse

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Monash University have entered into a new collaboration to create an ethically sourced facial biometric database to combat child exploitation.

The project is the brainchild of the AiLECS (AI for Law Enforcement and Community Safety) Lab, an entity designed to bring together researchers from Monash University’s Faculty of Information Technology and AFP, with particular emphasis on artificial intelligence (AI)-based projects for public safety.

Dubbed “My Pictures Matter”, the crowdsourcing campaign asks people aged 18 and over to submit photos of themselves as children.

The files will then be used to train biometric AI models that can potentially “recognize the presence of children in ‘safe’ situations, to help identify ‘unsafe’ situations and potentially flag child exploitation material. “.

The creation of the database was driven by the fact that often, explains Associate Professor Campbell Wilson, co-director of the AiLECS lab, similar machine learning models are trained with images that are pulled from the internet or without documented consent. for their use.

“Obtaining these images from the Internet is problematic when there is no way of knowing whether the children in these images have actually consented to their photos being downloaded or used for research purposes,” adds Wilson.

“By obtaining photographs from adults, through informed consent, we are trying to create technologies that are ethically responsible and transparent.”

For context, AFP admitted to using Clearview’s facial recognition technology in 2020. Since then, the company has been embroiled in a series of court cases for allegedly extracting biometric data from the faces of social media users. .

More recently, Clearview was fined approximately £7.5 million (US$9.5 million) by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

To avoid such scenarios and to allow users to control their privacy, all data collected as part of My Pictures Matter will be stored and managed according to data minimization principles.

“We do not collect any personal information from contributors other than email addresses associated with consent for research purposes, and these email identifiers will be stored separately from images,” says project lead Dr Nina Lewis. .

According to these guidelines, contributors will be able to obtain details and updates on each step of the research, as well as choose to modify users’ permissions or revoke their consent to research and remove images from the database at a later date.

The project aims to build a database of 100,000 ethically sourced images by the end of 2022.

Yoti began creating a database of images of children submitted by their parents to form its age estimation technology in 2021.

Article topics

AI | Australia | biometrics | biometric research | children | dataset | ethics | face picture | facial recognition | law enforcement | machine learning | font | coaching

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