In science-fiction movies such as Space Odyssey or The Terminator, we saw facial recognition as a future technology in 2001. But now, the facial recognition system is a reality and extensively used in private as well as public spaces.
You can see the prevalence of this technology in smartphone usage. People use their faces to lock/unlock their smartphones and tag their friends in social media posts. Such technology has revolutionised authentication, making it simple, accurate, and fast. As a private premise owner or government agency, you should be aware of all things associated with it before using it.
Pros of facial recognition systems
Using facial recognition systems is highly beneficial. Its benefits include a security boost, identification of offenders, and reduced unnecessary human interaction and labour. Here are some pros that you should be aware of:
- Identification of perpetrators and finding missing persons – As the system stores the facial recognition data in the database, police can use it to identify criminals or missing people by matching the data about people on the watch lists.
- Protection against theft – At retail stores, shoplifting is common. With this system, retail business owners can easily detect suspect people caught by their security cameras. It allows shop owners to catalogue thieves in their database for future usage.
- Better security measures – The system is highly effective to increase security at sensitive locations like airports and banks. It can help security personnel to detect people with potential risks by matching their facial data with the database.
- Efficient shopping – This technology can facilitate shoppers to pay the bills for their purchased goods through facial recognition and being charged to their banks after recognition.
- Drastic reduction in human touch points – With the use of this system, there will be reduced use of human resources for security measures. It eliminates the necessity of direct human interaction or physical contact for accessing a premise or going through security checks.
- Better organisation – With the use of this system, you can tag photos in your cloud storage via Google Photos. As a result, you have better organisation in your cloud data and tagging people on social media.
- Better medical treatment – The systems can help in detecting genetic disorders. And fast detection can help patients to get better medical treatment.
Cons of facial recognition systems
In the initial days, each technical solution has some drawbacks that get over with time. This technical solution is not an exception. Here are some pros you should know:
- Threat to personal and societal privacy – It is the downside of this technology. Taking privacy as a big issue, some cities like Cambridge, California, and Massachusetts have banned law enforcement from using real-time facial recognition systems. The police can use only video recordings done by surveillance cameras installed in public places.
- Infringed personal freedom – People could have a feeling of being judged or watched for their behaviour due to the recording and scanning of the facial recognition system. In addition, police can use the recorded data to run in their database for a virtual criminal lineup. As a result, innocent people can feel being used as suspects without potential causes.
- Violation of personal rights – Facial data is personal data as per laws of many countries when it is used for identification purposes. In some regions, it is also extended to ethnic or racial origin. By citing concerns over security and ethics, data collected by firms like Dahua and Hikvision in July 2022 are to be banned for use in the UK.
- Data vulnerabilities – Due to probable data breaches, there is a concern about the shortage of facial recognition data. Per a few real crime stories, hackers have succeeded in getting data from the stored facial scan data in the databases.
- Opportunities for fraud and allied crimes – Lawbreakers can take advantage of this system to do crimes against innocent people. With this technology, they collect people’s personal data with images or videos to commit crimes. They can open bank accounts or take out credit cards.
- Imperfection – In the current world, this system is far away from perfection. The technology is basically dependent on algorithms for the matches of facial data. Those algorithms are more effective for some specific groups of people such as white people in comparison with others. Big Brother Watch, a civil liberties organisation, published some evidence in 2018 stating the wrong identification around 98% of the time by the facial recognition system used by the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service).
- Inherent false positives – Due to imperfection, the technology can improperly identify innocent people as offenders or criminals. This false recognition can make people get arrested or have a bad reputation.
- Technology fooling – Some factors like lighting levels, camera angles, and image/video quality can affect the system’s ability to identify and recognise people’s faces. Mild alteration of facial data like a false moustache can make the system unable to provide wrong information.
Every technology has two sides. Based on its usage, a technical solution is a boon or curse. Instead of having some drawbacks, facial recognition systems are useful for private and public entities. With time, the systems will be more beneficial.