Facial recognition technology is getting more popular. It can make people’s lives more efficient. But at what cost? Some consumers and lawmakers are concerned.
More digital eyes know what you look like as facial recognition is increasingly used in airports, advertising, even schools. The same technology that lets users unlock iPhones and share on social media.
“On Facebook, the company says they use facial recognition to help you tag photos and for some security features,” Thomas Germain of Consumer Reports said.
But there are other potential uses of that data for the millions of Facebook users opted-in by default.
“There’s a patent to identify shoppers in stores and link them to social media accounts,” Germain said.
Facebook says it’s not doing that yet and that users can opt out of facial recognition features in their privacy settings. That’s not an option for law enforcement facial recognition programs. But the FBI says its use of this technology is vital.
“To investigate, identify, apprehend and prosecute terrorists and criminals,” Kimberly Del Greco, FBI Criminal Justice Information Services said.
At a House hearing this week, lawmakers were stunned to learn the FBI has a facial recognition database of 640 million photos. That’s almost double the U.S. population and includes drivers license directories from 21 states.
“No individuals signed off on that,” Representative Jim Jordan (R), Ohio said.
Now privacy and civil liberties groups are intensifying calls for a ban on the use of facial recognition. Advocates argue there is little transparency about what data is collected and how it’s being used.
“That is a problem! Consumers need to have enough info to make informed decisions,” Germain said.
If they can make a decision at all.
Advocates are also concerned about hacking because facial features cannot be changed like a password.