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The Major Dilemma Of Facial Recognition Technology

Without regulation, it could control our daily lives.


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Noah Simonich

3 years ago | 2 min read

The use of facial recognition technology has skyrocketed over the past couple years. The facial recognition industry is expected to grow to $3.2 billion in 2021 and $7 billion by 2024 in the U.S. It is used everywhere from airports, venues, shopping centers and even by law enforcement.

While there are benefits to this technology such as preventing and solving crimes, there are many more concerns about the privacy, safety and legislation regarding the use of this technology.

Facial recognition technology uses a database of photos, such as mugshots and driver’s license photos to identify people in security photos or videos.

It uses biometrics to map facial features and help verify identity through key features of the face. The most distinguishing features on a face are the distance between a person’s eyes and the distance from their forehead to their chin. This then creates what is know as a “facial signature.”

These distances can then be plugged into a mathematical formula and compared to a database of photos.

The main concern is the lack of federal regulation surrounding this new technology. Many are worried about how accurate the technology is and if there are biases and misinformation in these technologies. One issue, for example, is that the technology has been proven in multiple studies to inaccurately identify people of color, especially black women.

Not only can it lead to a wrongful arrest and conviction, it could also be very damaging to our society. In China, the technology is abused by law enforcement to constantly survey the public.

The countries’ social credit system, which has been condemned by most of the world, relies heavily on the technology. Often people guilty of petty crimes, such as jaywalking, have been arrested due to being recognized by the technology and has raised questions over the basic civil rights and privacy violations.

A facial recognition camera watching over a square in Shenzhen, China. Image Credit: Sanjana Varghese

However, the use of this technology hasn’t gone unnoticed. Both Oregon and New Hampshire have outlawed the use of facial recognition in body cameras for police officers. California cities, such as San Francisco, Oakland and some cities in Massachusetts have outlawed certain uses of facial recognition technology for city officials including law enforcement.

The use of this technology causes concerns about how much people are being watched and if hackers can access this data remotely, causing more harm than good.

An activist group called “Fight for the Future” claims facial recognition is an invasive technology that can be used for surveillance. “Facial recognition really doesn’t have a place in society,” said Evan Greer, director of Fight for the Future.

“It’s deeply invasive, and from our perspective, the potential harm to society and human liberties far outweigh the potential benefits.”

While I believe this technology can and should be used for good, it seems far to easy for it to be used for evil, and in China, it already is. With the advent of any new technology comes a great responsibility to the user and with the recent debate surrounding police brutality in the US, it cannot be left in the hands of law enforcement.

If used to implement a social credit system, such as China’s, it could control weather or not we can drive, apply for a job or buy a simple plane ticket.

This article was originally published on medium.

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