Your face or mine?

Written by:
Leah Johnston
Date Posted:
21 August 2019
Tech News

Should we trust facial recognition technology?

Sometimes technology can move so quickly that we just accept something quite groundbreaking as normal. 

This may be true of facial recognition technology. Our very own faces are now used to unlock our phones and confirm our identity at the airport, but should we be concerned?

Non-consenting subjects
A pain point for facial recognition technology is that it is being potentially used without the consent of the general public. Data misuse in technology is not a new concept, yet it somehow feels more personal when it relates to your actual face. 

Earlier this year, IBM was exposed for scraping images from Flickr to train their facial recognition AI, without telling those featured in the photos.

More recently, the fingerprints of over 1 million people, as well as facial recognition information, were discovered on a publicly accessible database for a company used by banks, defence contractors, and the UK Metropolitan Police. 

Big brother is watching
People tend to feel uncomfortable in front of the camera at the best of times, let alone adding the pressure of government surveillance. 

Amazon’s Rekognition software has been used in police trials in the US in order to let law enforcement scan faces in public to match them up with those in police databases. This kind of use gives the technology a very cynical, villainous feel.

However, even with facial recognition systems being deployed in real-world scenarios, the software has been known to fail. Amazon’s Rekognition software incorrectly matched members of Congress with other people who appeared in police mugshots. 

Lack of regulation
Regulation and legality surrounding facial recognition technology is a bit of a grey area, which understandably adds to people’s concerns. 

Following the recent confusion over facial recognition technology at King’s Cross train station, London Mayor Sadiq Khan commented that there was “serious and widespread concern” about the legality of such cameras.

Ben Robson, a partner at Oury Clark solicitors commented, “Currently no clear position has been adopted by the ICO, the courts or the UK government on how facial-recognition software deployment for security and law enforcement will be approached.”

What next?
People are now requesting a ‘Digital Bill of Rights’ to clearly establish and protect property rights in data, biometrics, face images and personal information. 

It is clear that there are some major security concerns surrounding facial recognition technology. As with all technology, its benefit depends on how appropriately it is used and gaining the trust of its users.

Is it time to enforce regulation?

Do you think we should have a Digital Bill of Rights? Let us know your thoughts on facial recognition technology @hyve!

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