( Estimated reading time: 4 min )
Facial recognition technology is used broadly in many places and is becoming increasingly potent as time goes by and technology becomes more advanced. Facial recognition has its benefits, however, it may be a threat to individuals and their privacy. Many people feel safe and secure when they’re out and about in public places where there are big crowds. However, with facial recognition, the anonymity could be stripped away entirely. Facial recognition has the ability to link and retain your personal information automatically with just an image to the database.
One of the threats facial recognition highlights is the fact that this type of technology will be used in most places that are publically open, like cafés, restaurants and kiosks. The technology can be used to capture the customer’s product suggestions automatically based on demographics on your face which could release details, such as age, name, age, gender and race.
It is possible that there could be facial recognition issues with regards to sensitive cases that relate to law and order, especially with sensitive circumstances where there are cases of crimes. Victims of domestic violence, stalking victims and law enforcement officers could be at risk of unwanted identification and their circumstances being disclosed.
Facial recognition has the ability to connect an individual’s offline identity with online identity regardless of permission. What’s more concerning is that as facial recognition progresses and the number of consumers using social media expands, more people could be at risk with their anonymity becoming discovered and their privacy being stripped away.
Popular sites, like Facebook and Google, have been working on using computers and algorithms to identify and recognise people in photos and it seems they have been able to do this very well. Facebook has their own in-house built software that does this and can identify the person’s features to form that person’s identification.
Facial Identity on Database Software
There is a possibility that almost everyone who uses public services is already in the database, that holds images of individuals. The Electronic Freedom Foundation states that the FBI has 14 million facial images on their database of people and in the future, plans to increase to 50 million. Even in the UK, the police have about 18 million mug shots on their database system. What’s worrying is that once a person has been identified, they will remain identified based on facial characteristics and the proportions of the face.
Do people really have a choice?
A major question and concern raised by many is if they have a choice in this matter? Can they opt out of the facial recognition? The civil rights groups argue this point in saying that people have a fundamental right to their own privacy and security and are entitled to their own anonymity.
There is another concern which was raised a while back, “if we are being remotely identified?“. This concern triggered a group of privacy campaigners to walk out of conferences that were brokered by the US National Telecommunication and Information Administration. A code of practice was trying to be distinguished as to how facial recognition should be used. However, in the campaigners’ eyes, the government agencies do not accept that consent should be mandatory before going ahead with gathering data on an individual.
Luckily, for people residing in Europe, the respective government needs to inform it’s citizens first. If the data needs to be used for any kind of commercial purposes then the regulations are a bit harder. At the end of the day, an average person can only hope that regulators will keep our private data secure and won’t let it fall into the wrong hands.
What do you think about facial recognition technology? What others sectors will facial recognition technology in the future? Feel free to leave to your opinion in the comments section below
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