Many of you might have seen facial recognition technology in action before. Facebook uses it to suggest friends, and law enforcement uses it to identify criminals. But as this technology becomes more widespread, there is a growing concern about privacy. After all, facial recognition data can be used to track our movements and even reveal our personal information. That’s why we need strong privacy laws to protect us from the potential dangers of facial recognition technology.
The article contains the personal opinion of the author.
One of the main concerns of many about facial recognition technology is its potential for abuse. Users are afraid that governments and corporations could use this data to track our movements and monitor our activities. They could also use it to find out personal information about us, such as our addresses and social media profiles. And if this data falls into the wrong hands, it could be used to exploit us or even steal our identities.
How does facial recognition technology work?
Facial recognition technology works by scanning a person’s facial features and then comparing them to a database of other facial scans. This can be used for things like identifying people at airports or in crowds or for authentication purposes like logging into websites. The technical steps of this scan can be done by a regular photo or video camera and are sometimes backed with an infrared scan to measure depth variances for better results.
This is important, for instance, so nobody can print out a photo of another person’s face to use it to log into their devices. The visual feed is aided by software that can then compare it to files from a database or track people without associating the individual with a person on file. This would be interesting in reporting usage and movement data for spaces in which it doesn’t matter who that person was. The tracking of the body would also suffice and doesn’t necessarily need to compute the face of a person.
How is biometric authentication used today?
Biometric authentication is the process of verifying an individual’s identity by measuring and analyzing their physical or behavioral characteristics. These characteristics can include facial features, fingerprints, voice patterns, and DNA. Biometric authentication is commonly used in today’s world to unlock phones, log into accounts, and verify identities.
Biometric authentication is becoming more and more common, and it is likely that it will be used in even more ways in the future. For example, facial recognition technology can be used to identify people as they walk down the street. This technology can be used for security purposes, such as identifying criminals or terrorists through CCTV. However, facial recognition technology can also be used for more benign purposes, such as identifying people who have forgotten their ID.
While facial recognition technology can be beneficial in some cases, it also raises privacy concerns. For example, if facial recognition technology is used to identify people as they walk down the street, then it could potentially be used to track the movements of innocent civilians. Additionally, if facial recognition technology is used for logging into accounts, then it could be used to access personal information.
Given the privacy concerns associated with facial recognition technology, it is important that there are laws in place to protect people’s privacy. For example, the European Union has a law called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that regulates how facial recognition technology can be used. This law requires companies to get consent from individuals before using their facial data.
What are the facial recognition privacy concerns?
People who don’t want to use facial recognition technology have several privacy concerns. As briefly mentioned above, one worry is that the technology can be used to track their movements. Another concern is that the technology can be used to identify them and collect information about them. Some people also worry that facial recognition technology can be used to hack into their accounts or steal their identities backed by VPN solutions or other tech that can change how a digital system interpreted their location.
These are all valid concerns, and facial recognition technology does have the potential to violate people’s privacy. However, many believe that facial recognition technology can also be used in a way that respects people’s privacy. For example, if companies only use facial recognition technology for authentication purposes (i.e., to verify that you are who you say you are), then people’s privacy would not be violated.
Beyond these risks, can the gains outweigh the concerns?
Many people feel very strongly about their privacy and have equally strong concerns, and are almost scared of them being tracked. This starts with people avoiding non-cash payments because they don’t want to share what they might be buying or where they went and at what time. This expands to possibly being monitored by governments or companies through their smartphones physically and through their online history for assessing behavior patterns.
Some regions of the world ignored any such concerns and introduced widespread surveillance networks, including camera feeds as well as software systems to add intelligence to the recorded material. Depending on where you look, this could also involve facial recognition and tracking how you behave. It’s like having a dedicated spy following you day and night and writing everything down that you do and where you went.
My personal view on this is that my personal privacy and data are not that important. It’s not that valuable. I don’t want to hinder such solutions because what you gain as a society is way more valuable to me. Police work is highly supported by such systems. If I right now get robbed in a park, or anywhere really, I can tell the police, but they have next to no information to work with, and they are unlikely to help me with the case.
If the robbery was on cam and if the robber was tracked the moment he went out of his house and towards me and back to his house or another hiding place, it would be a matter of minutes to settle the case. Ultimately this would likely help to reduce crime since the risk of being caught is simply so high that it’s never a profitable business. Even a social credit score system doesn’t have to be all bad. It’s just a matter of how it works and what the goals of that system are. What could be questionable if systems are there to protect you and reward you?
You can take this further if you want. Not only robbery is a crime, but also cases of rape, road rage cases, and most other crimes really, it would be much easier to solve and therewith likely to decrease. Terrorism works in different ways, but the gained intelligence could also help to prevent incidents from happening. To me, I would much rather have everyone feel safe and be safer, and I would be fine with sharing my location or behavior data to make this work. My privacy is not worth more than a safer society. Not in my books, at least, but certainly every person can have a different opinion on that.
While I am open to facial recognition technology being used to make a better society or help us through our days, it’s still clear that this requires well-designed technology policies and privacy laws that govern how the data is captured, used, and stored. Such laws should clearly define the whole scope and include responsibilities and accountabilities for not only people and governments but companies who might build or operate these systems just as much.
Without transparency of this and without awareness of the value for the society, a democratic region is not likely to be able to push through with any such plans without the support of the people. It’s important to have these discussions and come up with a plan that works for everyone. Facial recognition technology can be a powerful tool to make our lives easier, but it needs to be done in a way that doesn’t violate our privacy. Not in a way that we don’t agree to.
YouTube: Why Cities Are Banning Facial Recognition Technology | WIRED (Tom Simonite, Gretchen Greene)
Photo credit: The feature image has been done by Andrey Popov. The photo “laptop with street image and facial recognition” was taken by Tbtb. The image “student looks in the camera to use facial recognition” was prepared by China Images. The graphic “screen of CCTV cameras with facial recognition” has been done by Pixinooo. The shot “laptop computer shows the facial recognition system” was provided by China Images. The photo “boy going camping with backpack” was taken by Candy18.