Facial recognition is destroying your privacy

Facial Recognition
facial recognition man
The technology of facial recognition has shifted rapidly from science fiction to fact. Companies have raced to publish facial recognition products over the previous few years. Without lifting a finger, you can unlock your phone, board a plane, and enter your home.

Governments were also fast chasing the trend of facial recognition. Invasive and contentious surveillance products have started to be deployed by law enforcement agencies around the globe. But can facial identification techniques spell the end of personal privacy with so much growth and so little regulation?

How does facial recognition work?

Facial Recognition Woman
Since countries started rolling out Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in the mid-1990s, security cameras and video surveillance have become increasingly present. These cameras are capturing incidents, helping detect and prosecute offences and give a feeling of safety to individuals.

Computer hardware and software have enhanced quickly over the decades. Smartphones have also proliferated, and we jointly use them to take and post millions of pictures and videos every day.

This abundance of visual information is used by facial recognition schemes. Photos and videos are evaluated using software which often includes machine learning components and artificial intelligence components. These algorithms search, evaluate and store facial data identification.

Stored in a facial recognition database, this data is used to compare fresh pictures and videos. These databases are often contentious because there is no way to get rid of them. Private businesses or government agencies and law enforcement may operate the databases.

Surveillance in law enforcement

Surveilance Camera
Facial recognition systems have been used by law enforcement since at least 2001. For Super Bowl XXXV, a system was set up which resulted in 19 people being temporarily identified as holding criminal records.

However, with lower costs and enhanced accessibility, facial recognition has become widespread. Having your face scanned at an airport is not uncommon.

While it proved efficient in identifying 7,000 passengers who had exceeded their visa, many raised worries about the government constructing a facial database from millions of passengers. Sharing this database with other departments or even with foreign governments would be simple.

Like many government programs, we have little say in their deployment, like all the times our data was handed over to the NSA. This increases in the unnerving likelihood that you may be misflagged as a problem, your face used to define you all over the globe, and there is no recourse to alter that.

A House oversight committee was told in March 2017 that over half of all pictures of adult Americans are stored in the FBI-accessible facial recognition databases. Over 80% of those pictures came from non-criminal sources such as passports and driver’s permits. Even more worrisome was that 15 percent of the moment the algorithms used are incorrect and are more likely to misidentify black people.

Photo tagging

Photo tagging family
Democrats in Congress are considering a fresh bill to halt the cryptocurrency plans of Facebook in its tracks. Dubbed the Keep Big Tech Out of Finance Act, the new bill would explicitly prohibit the performance of banking tasks by big platform businesses. The proposal would be a direct rebuke to Facebook’s plans with the Libra cryptocurrency that, if the bill were implemented and enacted, would probably have to be cut off from the business.

Congress has not yet implemented the bill, and as a consequence, its content is far from final. Still, as representatives from Facebook appear before the House Banking Committee on Wednesday, it was the topic of important concern. A draft copy of the bill circulated for debate was acquired by the Verge.

The bill’s text simply says ” A large platform utility, may not be affiliated with any person that is, a financial institution, ” with additional sections outlining the definitions of different terms. Most particularly,’ large platform utility ‘ is described as’ a technology company with an annual worldwide income of $25,000,000,000 or more… predominantly involved in providing the public with an online marketplace, an exchange, or a third-party connection platform.’

Private businesses and facial recognition

Facial recognition match
Recently, also in our offline life, facial recognition has infiltrated. With their purchase of Whole Foods and the Amazon Go grocery stores, the world’s biggest retailer, Amazon, has expanded into physical shops. The Amazon Go shops are free of checkouts, and although they depend on cameras, facial recognition is supposedly not used.

However, the firm created a product for facial recognition, dubbed Amazon Rekognition. The firm has licensed the product to U.S. law enforcement agencies. These contracts were placed in place just as Congress considered drafting facial recognition regulation.

Groups of civil liberties have challenged the implementation of such schemes. It appears to have fallen on deaf ears, though. Congress declined to control facial recognition at the moment of writing, and the board of Amazon voted to continue to sell the software. Their lack of transparency makes them one of the companies that really doesn’t care about your safety.

Even in live music venues, facial recognition is also used. A scheme was in location during the May 2018 concert of Taylor Swift’s Rose Bowl. A kiosk set up to enable fans to watch a recording of Swift’s rehearsal had a hidden camera concealed inside, according to Rolling Stone.

Every face was sent to a Nashville command post. There was a search for facial recognition against a database of recognized stalkers from Taylor Swift. Being up front about using this technology may have diminished its usefulness, but it challenges the ethics of doing so without informing the vast majority of law-abiding music fans whose faces have been scanned.

Can you protect yourself?

Facial recognition systems appear to be helpful in isolation. In theory, they can help define criminals, allow us to seamlessly connect to our phones, and organize our collections of photographs automatically. They can, however, contribute to the erosion of your privacy without regulation. The rapid pace of technology change makes it hard for regulators to be up to date.

The fact that big companies have a huge impact over the discussion doesn’t help. We are often sold to implement facial recognition under the guise of safety. However, you may wonder if it is worth sacrificing your right to privacy for the present trade-off.

If you prefer not to scan your face at any time, consider using one of these methods to prevent facial recognition.

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