How far would you go to remain anonymous when you’re online? Anonymity was so much easier without social media. The Internet used to offer a semblance of even greater anonymity, since no one could connect your user profile to your face – or at least, that used to be the case, before the advent of facial recognition technology.
What is Facial Recognition Technology?
As the terminology implies, it is a biometric technology that allows software to recognise your face. You might be familiar with it if you own a Galaxy Note 8 (or the discontinued Note 7), S8 or newer, since these come with facial, fingerprint-, and iris-scanning technology as a means to unlock your phone.
And if you’ve been following the hype of the soon-to-be-released iPhone X, you’d know that it will come with Face ID technology, which will allow you to unlock your phone when you stare right at it.
Before it came to phones, though, facial recognition technology had already been sneakily introduced online, and touted as a good thing. Can you guess where you might have seen it? No? Well, the next time you’re tagged in photos on the likes of Facebook, note what it does: did your friend tag you manually, or did you come ‘recommended’ by Facebook as it matched your face in that photo to your cache of images? If you noticed the latter, that’s facial recognition at work – and that’s not always a good thing.
The Advantages of Facial Recognition Technology
If you’re all for unlocking your phone without tinkering with complicated passwords, facial recognition technology can be a boon. No more dangerous fiddling with your phone while driving! There are still a few kinks to be worked out before facial recognition technology can be reliable and secure enough, but it’s available for use should you decide to take that leap of faith.
Can’t remember the name of the friend you added on Facebook during a party? No worries, Facebook has it well in hand. Simply upload your picture and Facebook will recommend that friend for you.
The Disadvantages of Facial Recognition Technology
Lack of Privacy
Prepare to bid goodbye to your personal privacy if facial recognition technology is left to run unchecked. This technology can pick you out from a crowd, and this isn’t even something out of a sci-fi or detective story: it’s happening today. And your phone will have to store facial recognition data of your face in order to use it to unlock. In the event of an identity hack, how violated would you be?
There aren’t many work-arounds for this issue yet, but some companies such as Harvey have started thinking of ways to fool facial recognition technology. They have come up with projects that camouflage you by using face-like patterns on fabric to confuse and hinder recognition by the software. Bear in mind that it looks rather creepy, since the patterns have to look quite similar to faces in order for it to work – it could even look ghostly!
For all the convenience it offers, facial recognition technology may cause more privacy issues than it’s worth. Once the loopholes have been plugged, though, would it become a viable alternative for the future?