Many feel that Facial Recognition Technology may be the latest step on the march towards total surveillance and Totalitarian New World Order. Invasive surveillance is nothing new. Monitoring, activities, behavior, and information for data mining and influencing people did not start with the internet. Electronic means of surveillance and data gathering were being deployed way before the advent of social networks and search engine bots.
Research on facial recognition technology dates back to the mid-1960s when Woody Bledsoe along with Helen Chan Wolf and Charles Bisson began working together, and the US government has been putting the technology to the test since the 1990s.
We’ve come a long way since, as facial recognition is becoming increasingly more diffused, which leaves us facing ethical issues that have come into play. Issues that both businesses and consumers should consider.
Facial recognition is but the tip of the iceberg when you stop to think about the risks each and every one of us takes every day online. If you feel you are being watched or listened to, it may not be paranoia after all.
Corporate surveillance, data mining, and profiling, GPS tracking, and wireless tracking have enhanced surveillance to new dizzying heights, never known before. Following journalistic investigations, it was revealed that location data is tracked by a wider variety of parties for a greater number of purposes, and in ways that exceed our understanding or control. With companies hungry to feed us customized savory digital bait, the sheer volume of location data tracked, disclosed, and repurposed has become gargantuan and the tension has risen between innovation and privacy.
How Much Privacy Are You Willing To Sacrifice?
The biggest fear, surrounding facial recognition, is that identity theft would be rendered possible by anyone. For example, Google Glass has sparked debate over privacy, for the simple reason that a total stranger could quickly access all your social profiles, along with personal information about you, simply by snapping a shot of you while you are shopping, having a coffee or walking down the street. I could argue that a total stranger can also come across your FB profile picture and used it for similar purposes, which as we know has been done on many occasions. However the implications of Facial Recognition reach much further and deeper.
Those in favor of facial recognition will cite the many benefits:
- Easier to track down burglars, thieves, and trespassers. The technology can also analyze the feed of private and public CCTV camera networks.
- By singling out suspects among crowds, face recognition technology could help decrease stops and searches on law-abiding citizens.
- It could be used to help find missing children and seniors.
- Face recognition could make security checkpoints at airports less intrusive to passengers.
- Facial recognition could be used to battle banking frauds.
- Face recognition technology could be used to improve attendance at work by putting an end to time fraud. Employees would be required to check-in and out via a face-scanning device for work.
Those against facial recognition technology, such as Civil liberties groups, are concerned over threats to privacy, violations of rights and personal freedoms, potential data theft and other crimes as well as the risk of possible errors due to flaws in the technology.
Facial Recognition technology promises benefits at a cost. How far are you willing to compromise and sacrifice your privacy?
I always envisioned a technology-driven future and amongst my favorite authors were visionaries, such as Arthur C. Clarke, George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, Frank Heinlein, H. G. Wells, and William Gibson.
We are living at a time when the boundaries between science fiction and reality have thinned exponentially and we are now faced with a perplexing scenario. The questions we all need to ask ourselves are, how much privacy are we willing to give up for the benefits derived from technology and most importantly what else are we giving up?