Facial recognition has simplified many processes that were earlier cumbersome with added security. However, it is not without its flaws. The dangers of facial recognition pose a serious threat to online identities being misused by hackers for illegal activities.
Facial data serves as a gateway between users’ offline and online identities. When used ethically, facial recognition technology can improve public safety. However, if the technology is abused by hackers, it can lead to potential financial and reputational damage to businesses. Businesses should study and understand the dangers of facial recognition to provide efficient solutions to their users.
Although facial recognition technologies have proven to be a boon for many sectors, they have their share of flaws and vulnerabilities. The concerns regarding the dangers of facial recognition are justified as they pose a serious threat to consumers as well as companies.
Facial recognition technologies promise accurate identification. However, numerous studies have shown that facial recognition technology is still vulnerable. The technology has still a long way to go before it can become completely reliable. The error identification rate has still not dropped down to an acceptable level. Accurate data generation and user recognition still prove to be major challenges in implementing facial recognition technology. Governments have already been utilizing technologies like AR for curbing and investigating criminal activities, and facial recognition can provide significant improvements in maintaining law and order. However, the technology is still in its infancy and has issues in differentiating people having similar facial features. This poses a serious threat to individuals in situations regarding law and order situations. An identity mismatch can land an innocent citizen in trouble while letting a criminal go scot-free.
There is a worrying cause of concern as many government-established facial recognition surveillance systems have reported high error rates. Facial recognition software has also proven to be biased against people of color. There is a lot of concern against this issue as this may result in the exploitation of minorities when the technology becomes more mainstream. A suitable framework with advanced improvements in technology is the need of the hour to mitigate the issue of biased decisions.
The primary concern raised by citizens regarding facial recognition is the lack of user consent involved in the implementation process. CCTV surveillance systems are already being employed by many governments around the world. User consent is usually not sought in public places collecting citizens’ facial data. This enables automated live surveillance of people. Governments can track each and every move of citizens compromising their privacy. If used carelessly, every citizen can turn into a walking ID card, which leads to privacy, ethics, and security concerns.
The right to privacy matters even in public places. Facial recognition methods employed by governments undermine the right to privacy as it means we can no longer do anything in public without the state having knowledge about it. A future with automated blanket surveillance may be possible due to the mainstream employment of facial recognition technologies.
If facial data gets compromised, it poses huge threats to governments as well as ordinary citizens. If the security measures employed with facial recognition technology are not stringent enough, hackers can easily spoof other peoples’ identities to carry out illegal activities. This may result in huge financial losses if the data required for financial transactions gets stolen or duplicated. Financial institutes employing facial recognition methods for providing financial services must ensure to provide strict security measures to protect user data. In the consumer electronics space, mobile companies employing facial recognition technologies in mobile devices aren’t foolproof. Apart from a few manufacturers, most facial recognition tools are nothing more than gimmicks. These systems can be fooled easily leading to compromise of user data. However, the instances of identity fraud are decreasing due to increasingly advanced security measures. Fooling a facial recognition system has become difficult, but it’s still not impossible.
There is a lack of detailed and specific information regarding the use of facial recognition technology among common citizens. Most countries have no specific legislation or rules that regulate the use of facial recognition technology. This legal loophole opens the door to abuse of the technology. Governments or business organizations can use the facial recognition data without the knowledge or consent of the people and use them in unapproved ways. Safeguarding of personal data has become a huge concern in today’s day and age. Citizens have become aware of protecting their personal data and prevent its use and misuse in public. A proper regulatory framework needs to be employed by governments to safeguard the rights of the citizens. Governments can enact laws and put ethical practices in place regarding facial recognition technology. This provides a sense of assurance to the citizens and decreases the chances of mistrust. Organizations can implement strict guidelines regarding the use of facial recognition technology at their workplace.
One of the significant dangers of facial recognition is the unethical use of technology. Gathering facial data without consent is one thing. However, collecting information without the user even being aware raises a huge debate regarding the unethical use of the technology. Hidden cameras are being employed at various places without the user being aware. Such data can be exploited and can be used unethically, compromising the data of unaware citizens. This not only violates an individual’s right to privacy but also infringes his right to information. For example, a pizza restaurant in Norway was found to be using facial recognition technology with hidden cameras for delivering gendered advertising. Such instances can greatly harm the reputation of the firms carrying out such illegal activities. Organizations must abstain from putting such practices in place which gather data without the knowledge of the concerned people. Facial recognition technology can be deployed selectively too. For example, it can be used to identify illegal citizens and refugees or racial profiling. Deployment of controversial facial recognition technology poses concerns regarding human rights. Thus, human rights should be of prime importance while implementing facial recognition technology.
Facial recognition software depends on and generates a large amount of data. Storage of data becomes a major concern with this technology. However, the prevention of data theft is a bigger concern regarding technology. Database hacking can compromise the data of thousands, if not millions of people. There have been numerous instances of data theft from publicly accessible databases. Prevention of data theft should be one of the priorities while implementing facial recognition technologies. Once the user data is compromised, it is compromised forever. This poses a significant threat as the data can be misused for a long period of time if the issue is not resolved.
Agreed, there are various dangers of facial recognition technology. However, these risks can be overcome with proper implementation of the technology. Safe storage of facial recognition data and ethical use will help eliminate the major concerns regarding the use of facial recognition technology. A healthy debate regarding the implementation of facial recognition technology by governments as well as private institutes is the need of the hour to find a suitable solution to the issues faced by the technology.
Naveen is the Founder and CEO of Allerin, a software solutions provider that delivers innovative and agile solutions that enable to automate, inspire and impress. He is a seasoned professional with more than 20 years of experience, with extensive experience in customizing open source products for cost optimizations of large scale IT deployment. He is currently working on Internet of Things solutions with Big Data Analytics. Naveen completed his programming qualifications in various Indian institutes.