The dangers of facial recognition technology

Facial recognition technology has become part of our daily lives, whether you use your face to unlock your smartphone or you notice yourself automatically being tagged into photos posted on social media.

One of the founders of facial recognition technology is computer scientist and mathematician Woodrow Wilson Bledsoe. It dates back to the 1960s when he established ways to arrange faces by using gridlines.

Various tech companies are applying this technology to revolutionise all aspects of our lives to transform the way we live. Smartphone manufacturers such as Apple have embedded this as a security feature.

How does facial recognition work?

  • The image or video is captured
  • Geometric measurements of the face are read
  • A mathematical formula for the face is calculated
  • This is then compared with images in the database

Privacy and security 

In order for facial recognition to operate, databases are filled with huge amounts of facial data. If this data is hacked or leaked it could potentially be exposed to cybercriminals. More worryingly there is also the risk of mistaken identity.
At what point have we given consent for these companies to collect and store our data? Where is our data being stored? These are all questions which come to mind. In 2018 GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) made headlines and was widely talked about. Under GDPR compliance, businesses have to ensure that personal data is lawfully collected. Those who collect and manage the data are required to protect it from exploitation or otherwise encounter fines. Surely as technology advances further, companies which use facial recognition should follow similar rules and regulations around the collection of our data.

Technology and accuracy

Like any technology, accuracy is never a guarantee and in the event of false circumstances, the facial recognition technology could be misused and result in huge problems and even criminal activity.

A case of mistaken identity was reported in the US when student Ousmane Bah was arrested after being accused of stealing $1,200 worth of merchandise from Apple stores. Subsequently, Bah filed a $1bn case against Apple for his false arrest claiming that their in-store AI (artificial intelligence) led to his arrest.

Prior to this Mr Bah lost his driving licence, which he believes could have been used by the criminals during the thefts. He was confident that Apple’s systems associated video footage of the thief with his name, which then led to his mistaken arrest.

Apple claims they do not use facial recognition technology in their stores.

What are your views on facial recognition technology? Comment below to share your feedback.

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