Of all the technological advances of the last 100 years, facial recognition technology is arguably one of, if not the, most controversial. On the one hand, facial biometric data is one method of vastly improving the security of airports, businesses and public places; on the other, face recognition evokes images of a totalitarian, dystopian surveillance state.
The reality is much different. Here is why there is no need if managed properly, to fear this facial recognition technology.
Facial recognition scares people. It is a technology that Hollywood has both glamorized and villainized. The same holds true for how politicians have used the technology. People are afraid facial recognition technology will be misused. They fear it will be used to facilitate massive violations of privacy and that their own personal data will be used against them. Further, people fear that it is an incomplete technology and prone to errors. Those errors, they reason, could land them on a security list, restrict their movement and potentially wreck their reputations.
Why The Fears are Overblown
While the concerns hold some validity, it is important to remember that facial recognition is an easy target because the concept of a camera image matching a person’s face based on biometric markers triggers two red flags: Privacy and errors.
Yet, almost everyone with a smartphone has at least fingerprint recognition, which serves the same purpose and needs the same type of biometric data to be considered accurate. In fact, many of the same concerns about fingerprint technology are being raised now regarding facial recognition technology.
For example, when succumbing to concerns about face recognition technology, some assume that the data collected on them is unique to that system. In reality, their personal data is located in many different databases, ranging from government to academic to business and more.
People were once concerned with the accuracy of fingerprint data technology, much like they are about facial recognition technology today. Just like with fingerprint technology, however, face recognition technology is getting much better.
Initially, errors and bugs were prevalent. Those problems were identified and ironed out over time. Virtually everyday algorithms are being improved, imagery enhanced and recognition software upgraded.
Why It Should Not be Feared
When you get right to it, facial recognition technology has an image problem.
The central reason besides the sinister reputation being exaggerated is that everyone’s data is everywhere and people are afraid one more layer of data collection will be used against them. Start with the data the IRS and Social Security Administration have on everyone and work back from there; everyone’s personal data is collected by virtually everyone else.
That reality, though, is why facial recognition should not be feared. While abuse is certainly possible if not tightly regulated, all facial recognition does is make accessing personal data or using someone else’s identity more difficult, if not impossible.
Plus, because of the privacy concerns, federal and state public officials are working hard to create a framework under which facial technology can be controlled.
Eventually, facial recognition technology will be used everywhere proving an identity is necessary. For that reason alone, a business should get on board with facial recognition technology now and start ensuring their security is as strong as possible.