The rise of facial recognition technology has been rapid, but governments around the world are still struggling to determine just how this technology should be used and where its limits lie. Facial recognition can be used to access your bank account or make purchases online, and it can identify wanted criminals from crowd footage. But, at what point does this technology go too far?

In recent years, facial recognition has been all over the news, from discussions of its potential dangers to its use in everything from retail shopping to law enforcement. As companies race to create the most accurate facial recognition software, we must have an understanding of just how safe this technology really is and who’s using it, and in what situations.

Here’s everything you need to know about facial recognition and how to make sure your data is safe from prying eyes.

What is Facial Recognition?

Facial recognition is a process that identifies an individual’s face and matches it against a database of people. It uses facial recognition software to take measurements of the person’s face, such as the distance between their eyes or the length of their nose. The system then creates a unique template that can be used to identify them in the future. Facial recognition is used for security purposes, such as logging into your phone or unlocking your front door with just one scan of your face.

It works by taking pictures of faces that have been captured by cameras or other devices. The pictures are then fed into a computer that searches for patterns. These patterns are then compared against databases of images stored by organizations like businesses or governments. If there is a match between an image stored in a database and another image from a camera or video feed, then it can be assumed that the person in question belongs to that organization or government.

This process has been extensively used by law enforcement agencies around the world for years now. They’ve used it to track criminals, monitor protestors at protests, and even catch criminals before they commit crimes.

5 Key Facts About Facial Recognition Technology

  • Facial recognition, at its simplest, is a technology that can identify or verify someone by comparing their face to a database of faces.
  • Right now, the most common use of facial recognition is in law enforcement, where officers can take a photo of an unknown person and compare it to the photos in the database to find out if they are a wanted criminal or missing person.
  • This technology is also used by companies and organizations for security purposes and to monitor employees’ attendance. For example, many businesses have cameras installed around the premises that capture images of everyone who enters and exits the building. That information is then matched with employee records to ensure that only authorized personnel enter secured areas.
  • In addition to these uses, some devices, such as iPhones, come equipped with this built-in capability, so you don’t need any other apps or software installed on your phone to scan your face. You just need to point the camera at your face, which will read all of your unique features like the distance between your pupils, nose length and shape, etc.
  • Facial recognition software has been implemented in many security applications, such as airport screening systems and police body cameras. The technology can also be used to identify people in crowds, which could help save lives by preventing accidents or crimes against innocent people.

Facial Recognition and Privacy: What You Need to Know

Individuals and corporations are concerned about privacy as this technology becomes more prevalent in everyday life. People want to know where the images in facial recognition databases come from and who has access to this information.

Some wonder if the databases were created using data from social media sites such as Facebook, while others question the use of traffic signal cameras in the creation of these databases.

Citizens, in particular, are skeptical of the use of facial recognition technology to identify and apprehend suspected offenders. Because this technology is not perfect, there is a risk of persons being wrongly detained for crimes they did not commit.

Given that false arrests caused by facial recognition technologies are already occurring, these worries are legitimate.

The courts are starting to experience privacy issues related to this technology. Consider the Patel v. Facebook court case as evidence of the growing popularity of the privacy movement.

Patel v. Facebook establishes precedent under the Biometric Information Privacy Act, which was put in place in 2008 to address privacy concerns over biometric data, but it also makes legal history as the first time a large corporation has been sued on facial recognition issues.

For many people, privacy and facial recognition don’t exactly go hand in hand. Public outcry is starting to rise as more businesses come under fire for alleged privacy abuses.

However, huge firms like Facebook and law enforcement organizations are typically the main offenders when it comes to the storage and usage of personal data. The likelihood that your data has been saved and sold without your knowledge is less likely when local businesses use facial recognition technology.

Smaller firms typically use this technology for security or attendance reasons. Data may occasionally be kept in-house rather than being sold to or maintained outside of the network of the company.

Additionally, people that willingly create user profiles sometimes create facial recognition databases. For instance, a local company that uses facial recognition to sign in and out staff members can ask them to voluntarily upload a photo of themselves to the database so that the system will recognize them when they are scanned. So, is facial recognition safe? Let’s find out.

Is Facial Recognition Safe?

Despite privacy issues, face recognition has many advantages when used correctly, including public safety, personal security, cybersecurity, and ease. It is natural to be wary of new or relatively unknown technologies, especially in the unpredictable world we live in today. However, facial recognition will eventually improve security with the right information and application. When implemented in the context of access control, facial recognition offers a physically secure answer to building security.

Furthermore, facial recognition access control brings a sense of hospitality to the security sector by putting the user’s health first. The most resilient solutions in times of crisis will be those that use their talent and knowledge to meet the immediate needs of the people they serve.

COVID-19 has ushered in a new era of touchless experiences worldwide. Touchless access control, touchless sanitizer dispensers, and other novel technologies are now available in almost every aspect of life. This technology will be vital in enabling a safer society in the future, and people should align themselves with companies that invest in safeguarding their privacy and data security.

facial recognition
Facial recognition technology is now being used for so many different reasons, and it isn’t short of its concerns and drawbacks.

Which Devices Use Facial Recognition?

Apple has the most devices using facial recognition technology, such as the iPhone X and XS. Android phones also use facial recognition technology. Apple uses Face ID to unlock your phone and confirm App Store or iTunes purchases. Google’s new phone, the Pixel 6, also uses facial recognition for unlocking the device and verifying purchases through Google Pay. Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei, and others have their own versions of face recognition software.

There are many different devices that use facial recognition, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, computers, digital cameras, and security cameras. The most common uses are for security and access control, but it can also be used for automated customer service or to improve the user experience in digital content. A few examples include:

  • Identifying people and verifying their identities at security checkpoints, which can help reduce crime by preventing illegal activity during check-in
  • Use on many phones and computers to help users log in securely with their face rather than typing in their password whenever they want to access their accounts
  • Integration into retail terminals that allow customers to pay for purchases using only their faces instead of using cash or credit cards

How Can You Protect Yourself From Facial Recognition?

Facial recognition technology is becoming more and more prevalent, and it’s not just for criminals. The technology has also been used for everything from fraud detection to background checks.

If you’re worried about your privacy in such situations, there are ways to protect yourself from being identified by facial recognition systems. Here’s what you need to know:

Turn Off Facial Recognition From Your Device

One way to protect yourself from facial recognition is by turning off the ability to identify your face on your device.

How you turn off this feature varies based on the device, but many phones allow you to disable this in the settings menu. If you’re unsure how to turn off face recognition, search for it on Google and follow the instructions. You can also toggle this setting in Facebook Messenger or Android Messages as well.

Use Innovative Photo Concealing Apps

Use innovative photo-concealing apps like Fawkes. Fawkes is a software program developed by University of Chicago researchers for the illegal exploitation of personal photos. Fawkes ‘cloaks’ photographs with hidden alterations and fools deep learning computer models that power facial recognition without making evident changes to the naked eye.

Every time you post or share a photo online, you may run it via this software. Anyone or any tool attempting to scrape these photographs will obtain a warped version of how you appear.

Use a VPN

A VPN encrypts all of your internet traffic so that it cannot be read by third parties such as governments or corporations who may be using facial recognition software against you.

Avoid Tagging Photos on Social Media

Facebook and Google have developed their own facial recognition databases thanks to users (including you) who freely tag their images on various apps. Don’t tag pictures if you don’t want these companies to keep an eye on you and use your face in their databases. Make sure to remove the tags from any images that others have uploaded.

Bottom Line: is Facial Recognition Safe?

The question of whether or not facial recognition technology is safe is really a matter of whose point of view you take into consideration. Both security and privacy advocates have concerns about the use of the technology, while law enforcement sees the benefits it can provide. There are many different uses for facial recognition technology currently available online, some of which are less invasive than others.

That said, facial recognition is undoubtedly a trend we will see more and more of in the coming years. It is a useful feature that can provide convenience to users and make their lives easier. Facial recognition has relevance in a high number of industries, which will result in even more uses for the technology.

As a result, we should keep an eye out for unintended consequences, but there’s no reason to believe that facial recognition is generally unsafe or places us at great risk. It’s simply one way to identify people—like fingerprints or gait analysis—and it should always be used responsibly.

Up Next

Is Facial Recognition Safe? Which Devices Use It Most? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Is it safe to use facial recognition?

Yes, generally speaking. Most operating systems that support biometric unlock methods employ specific measures to ensure that sensitive data, including your facial features and fingerprints, is stored securely.

What are the risks of facial recognition?

Data breaches involving facial recognition data increase the potential for identity theft, stalking, and harassment. Additionally, some states have enacted narrow bans on the use of FRT in conjunction with police body cameras. Plus, it raises a lot of concerns as far as privacy and personal security.

What does facial recognition look at?

Facial recognition is a way of identifying or confirming an individual’s identity using their face. Facial recognition systems can be used to identify people in photos, videos, or in real time. Facial recognition is a category of biometric security.

What is the purpose of facial recognition?

Perhaps one of the most well-known applications of facial recognition technology is law enforcement, where agencies can use it to find missing people, aid in solving crimes, and help monitor large crowds of people.

What are the limitations of facial recognition?

As with any technology, there are drawbacks to using facial recognition, such as the violation of rights and personal freedoms that it presents, potential data theft, and the risk of overreliance on inaccurate systems.

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  • Forbes Available here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2020/09/30/12-things-you-need-to-know-about-facial-recognition-technology/?sh=1344d278328f
  • Sos Can Help Available here: https://www.soscanhelp.com/blog/facial-recognition-technology
  • Access Run Available here: https://www.access.run/en/2019/04/is-facial-recognition-technology-really-safe/
  • Amazon Available here: https://aws.amazon.com/what-is/facial-recognition/#:~:text=Human%20face%20recognition%20systems%20use,the%20risk%20of%20unauthorized%20access.
  • Kaspersky Available here: https://www.kaspersky.com/resource-center/definitions/what-is-facial-recognition
  • NY Times Available here: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/blog/how-facial-recognition-works/