The use of facial-recognition technology is on the rise in Europe and beyond. Both companies and governments are using this technology for a wide range of purposes. The new technology offers benefits but it also causes concerns among privacy-watchers.
Facial-recognition is a software application that is capable of identifying or verifying a person by analysing patterns in a person’s facial contours. The technology is being used both online and offline. Especially the use of surveillance camera’s equipped with facial recognition in public area’s causes concerns among those who favour not to be digitally tracked.
Diego Naranjo; a representative of the European Digital Rights Initiative also thinks facial-recognition camera’s could pose a risk to people’s rights.
‘When large numbers of facial recognition camera’s are being used to identify people and monitor their behaviour it could pose a risk to their privacy since sensitive information like their location, their behaviour and who they meet with could be recorded.’ – Diego Naranjo, ERDi
If companies want to use facial-recognition software on people they have to handle according to the EU-data protection-laws; the General Data Protection Regulation. In this regulation there is a part on the use of biometric data of people such as fingerprints and facial features. Companies always require consent of users when they collect such data.
In several places in Europe including on the streets of London, Nice and a few cities in Germany this camera’s with this type of software are already being used to watch who is in the area. According to the current EU-laws companies are banned from using facial recognition on European citizens without asking them for consent. When not restricted by national law governments are able to use this technology however they want.
A lot of us already know that our technology is being used to track our behaviours. When you are serving the internet your preferences and especially your purchases are being tracked. When you are carrying your smartphone around your location is able to be tracked by the governments, whoever you have given consent and maybe others are following you as well. The use of surveillance camera’s equipped with facial recognition software however poses new type threats to those worried about being tracked.
Brenda Leong is a representative of the Future of Privacy Forum and an expert on facial recognition. The future of privacy forum is a think tank that wants to protect privacy and advise companies and governments on the use of certain technologies that might offer a risk to privacy before they are implemented and regulated.
‘Most people are nowadays aware that when they carry their phone around they are able to be tracked. If you really don’t want to be tracked you could leave your phone at home. With facial-recognition camera’s being used in public area’s there are extra things to be concerned about. A lot of people don’t know they are being monitored when they walk trough an area with these type of camera’s Installed. When you are aware of these cameras being present and you don’t want to be tracked you will have to avoid these areas.’ – Brenda Long, Future of Privacy Forum