Editorial

Major concerns arising from the continued use of facial recognition technology

An interesting guest blog on some of the concerns around the use of facial recognition technology.

Posted 6 October 2020 by

Facial recognition technology is designed to identify a person using their face. A facial recognition system captures and compares one’s face by analyzing features such as the space between the nose and eyes, the jawbones and so on. 

While the technology has been given a warm reception by many businesses, enterprises, companies and government agencies; some concerns keep on emerging.

Recent trends in facial recognition technology

The number of enterprises using facial recognition technology has been on the rise. This has seen the facial recognition market share become one of the largest in the biometrics market. Many users see facial recognition technology as a quick solution to security management and access control. 

Facial recognition usage has been on an increase even on consumer-based applications. For instance, you will notice the surveillance cameras on airports, hotels and restaurants. Many retail outlets are also using this technology as an aid to streamlining basic activities such as self-service. 

Institutions such as health facilities are also using this recognition technology to screen and monitor their patients. Still, on identity verification, online banking platforms are now considering relying on facial scans as identity verification and authentication process. 

The number of devices used in facial recognition technology continues to grow and is expected to gain extensive growth per year. Currently, closed-circuit television and smartphones are the widely used hardware devices for this technology. Apple phone’s customers can now use the 3D model facial scan technology to unlock their phones and even authenticate payment for purchases from the company’s store.

More android phone companies continue to incorporate the 3D face-mapping technology in their latest devices. Samsung has already effected the technology; we expect to see more smart gadgets brands doing the same. 

Advertising agencies use this technology to understand their target groups much better. For instance, from the sales, they can identify the gender and age-groups of the customers visiting a business entity. They then use this information to craft advertisements targeting a particular niche as may be necessary. 

You may then ask, for instance, why was there a protest against the use of facial recognition if the technology is benefiting scores of applications? Here are some of the concerns being raised by the technology. 

5 concerns raised by an increase in the use of facial recognition technology

You may be wondering; why do the different campaigners oppose the use of facial recognition technology despite the government insisting that it is an essential tool for public security? Here are some of the reasons why you will constantly see the Big Brother Watch warn against the wide-spread use of face scans in the UK. 

Until these issues are addressed, this technology remains to be an uncomfortable one. 

It’s an intrusion on a person’s privacy

One of the requirements set out by GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is that no personal information should be collected without the owner’s consent. The continued use of facial recognition technology is a total disregard of this requirement. 

As the police continue using surveillance cameras in an effort to bring wanted criminals to book, they are monitoring every single person on that space without asking for permission from members of the public. 

While it may be a necessary measure to help bring lawbreakers to book, this constant surveillance is an intrusion on one’s privacy. When we have the technology mounted on both private and public spaces, it’s becoming increasingly impossible to lead a private life. 

Mismatch concerns

The accuracy of facial recognition technology is far from perfect. Some critics describe it as a biased technology. There have been different cases of mismatch. For instance, in 2018 Amazon’s face scan technology was in the limelight for passing out incorrect identities of 28 members of congress. 

Questions have been raised about the accuracy of the technology that misidentifies people of colour, women and the elderly. 

There is no clear regulation

As it is right now, many countries including the UK do not have clear government authority for the use of the technology. Institutions install surveillance systems whenever they want to. There is no agency to scrutinize the installation or even ascertain that the data collected is not misused. 

The lack of set standards for facial recognition technology to be used in a premise raises the fear of having data misuse in the guise of combating crime. 

Lack of clear data protection policies

Without clear data protection and assessment policy in place, face recognition remains to be a controversial technology. 

Different entities continue to scan the faces of their visitors without clear policies on how they intend to protect the sensitive information. With the current storms of data breaches, we cannot disregard the possibility of having fraudulent employees of these organizations become accomplices or aids in data breaches. 

Use of facial recognition in law enforcement

Some critics are also concerned that government agencies might keep information collected from facial recognition for other uses. While the original intent may be the identification of law defaulters, the process may aid the agencies in other undisclosed motives such as identification of protestors and perpetrators of anti-government activities. 

Conclusion

As we continue to embrace this technology, legislators have a role to play. They must remain vigilant to ensure that the innovations do not outpace the existing security and privacy provisions. 

About the author:

This blog comes courtesy of Brad at turnonvpn.org a website set up to campaign for a ‘private and secure internet.’