The use of facial recognition is becoming ubiquitous in almost every aspect of our daily lives. The techs application is present from social media networks, government institutions, to streets with surveillance cameras in major towns. The combination of favorable circumstances such as the reduced costs of computing, proliferation of internet connected devices and improvements in machine learning have made the technology mainstream in our society.
Facial recognition and search tools have a wide range of applications. Not only can they help law enforcement identify criminal suspects, they also help media companies and photographers index visual content and build easy to search archives. However just like with many new technologies facial recognition doesn’t lack its share of drawbacks. Privacy concerns loom large. The apps can’t guarantee protection against privacy violation, especially at a time where corporate data gathering, data breaches and government surveillance are the main points of concern in our internet age.
This concerns stem from the combination of facial recognition apps with surveillance cameras making the apps powerful tools that can track an individual’s every move. When all the public data gathered from the apps is combined and analyzed, one can easily unravel an individual’s recent location and activities. On Apps like Facebook, adding your face to their database allows the app to tag you with minimal effort. The Facial recognition feature was greatly denounced as a cynical means for Facebook to gather data. The European Union even declared the feature as an invasion of users’ privacy, blocking its expansion in the EU.
Developers of the infamous FaceZam App involved in one of the biggest viral marketing scams of 2017 also claimed that they could find anyone’s Facebook profile by simply uploading a picture of their face. Such blatant erosion of privacy makes people shy away from apps that utilize the technology.
Many Facial recognition Apps like Snapchat use augmented reality face filters which require facial data input. This data gathered from the various facial impressions captured, can later be transferred from a device to the developer’s server for posterity use. The use of remote storage for data gathered consequently raises the question of just how effectively facial recognition apps can gallantly enforce and maintain the privacy of their facial recognition data.
This can be attributed to the fact that Face data is regarded as highly private information which can be used for authentication and identification in various facial recognition applications .The huge treasure trove of bio-metric data found on the servers makes facial recognition data very irresistible to hackers, advertisers and governments. The susceptibility to data privacy breaches highly contributes to people’s unwillingness to use the Apps, fearing the dystopian future of oppression, mass surveillance and control – a recurring theme in Science fiction movies, could become a reality.
Privacy experts however say that concerns of facial recognition data are highly overblown. Concerns such as government snooping and mass surveillance are misplaced since a lot of facial photographs are already available on social media and even vehicle registration databases. They recommend that Privacy issues should alternatively be more focused on the allure of facial recognition data to businesses in building tracking profiles for its users, with the intention of corporate invasions. Unscrupulous marketers eager to track users, often buy facial recognition data from data brokers and analytics firms for the purpose of advertisements or content creation. Businesses and advertisers are highly incentivized to gather as much data about potential customers to deliver gendered advertising.
Despite the looming data privacy issues, more people continue to utilize the facial recognition apps on a frequent basis. It creates some sort of privacy paradox where people don’t exactly act in a way they feel is important to them. They may not be comfortable with the targeted advertising but still create accounts on the apps, blindly accept the terms and conditions-most probably allowing access to personal data, in order to connect with friends and stay up to date on their daily lives.
New technologies will always present businesses, advertisers and governments, an opportunity to further erode an individual’s privacy. It may be hard to keep up with latest technological challenges, however it is important to challenge overreaching tactics that undermine your right to privacy.
While social media has changed the way we communicate,its important for you to consider what information you avail on the platforms.Don’t just blindly use facial recognition apps under the notion that “If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear”, it is the silliest argument about privacy concerns. The truth of the matter is,whether right or wrong, we have everything to hide.