Friday, 5 June 2020

Facial recognition technology: explaining the good and the bad

Facial recognition technology: explaining the good and the bad 

By Chris Jones

Facial recognition is a technological innovation that has generated both excitement and fear in notable measures. The advantages range from its wide use in combating crime, providing surveillance for high-end events and streamlining air travel. This technology has also created controversies; many people are still sceptical about the security vulnerabilities in the facial recognition systems. 

The fact that many companies continue to make major investments in this technology is an indication that facial recognition is here to stay. As such, it is best if you understand the technology, how it works and what this means for your privacy. 

This article discusses these and other interesting insights that will help you cope with these surveillance times much better. 

Recent trends in Facial recognition
Facial recognition technology is being used as an access control system. Many companies in different sectors have deployed this technology in their access control points. The technology is replacing the traditional physical identification where security guards had to check identity documents to grant access to work premises by employees.

Mobile phone brands have also included this technology in their latest devices. Apple and Samsung were among the first brands to use the new technology that helps protect customers’ confidential data even if their device is stolen. 

Online platforms like Facebook use facial recognition to automatically identify a Facebook member from an uploaded photo. This is the technology behind the prompts that ask whether you wish to tag a friend or yourself in a group photo. 

The technology is also being used at the airports. Airlines are using face recognition in their check-in points and this is helping move the plane boarding queues faster as people spend lesser time checking in and sorting their luggage.  

Advantages of facial recognition technology

Improved user experience
Unlike other scan verification methods, facial recognition technology involves no physical contact. This makes the authentication processes quick and hygienic. The no-contact feature makes the technology ideal for access control in environments that have huge traffic. 

It is also a good access control solution for strange times like the coronavirus outbreak where we are required to minimize physical contact as much as possible.

High compatibility
It is easy to introduce and blend facial recognition technology with other control systems and processes. The system is also compatible with many devices. 

Better security
Because they are harder to steal or imitate, faceprints can be used as an additional security measure to the already existing passcodes and access passwords.

Disadvantages of face recognition technology

It steps on privacy rights
Government and other spying agencies may victimize you based on the information gathered from surveillance footages. A rogue government may single out its citizens based on what they say or whom they interact with. 

Legal vulnerabilities
Many lawmakers from across the world have not been able to keep up with the developments in facial recognition. As such, there has been a delay in the making and passing of laws that are much-needed as an oversight aid for the ethical use of facial recognition technology. 

Potential mismatches
Studies have shown inaccuracies in some facial recognition systems. Many face recognition software seems to have had difficulty identifying females, the elderly and people of colour.

How to stay safe amid constant surveillance
They may succeed in capturing your face but the access to other sensitive information largely depends on how exposed you are. Internet use leaves traces that can be used to track you down. Fortunately, you can browse anonymously with a VPN

A VPN helps keep all your online activities safe from any harm; be it hackers or other spy agencies. With a VPN connection, you can rest easy knowing that your credit information, accounts and browsing history are safe and confidential.

In addition to using a VPN, you can try other tricks that disguise your real appearance while visiting public places with facial recognition surveillance cameras. 

Consider wearing a face mask, glasses, growing a beard and any other trick that hides the distinct features on your face. You should also avoid staring at surveillance cameras as this gives a clear capture position. 

In summary
If used wisely, facial recognition technology has many potential benefits to society as a whole. Small, medium and large enterprises can benefit a lot; this technology provides them with solutions that help enhance their operations. 

That said, its use should not overlook the public interest. Proper security policies and measures should be put into place to ensure that this technology is not used as an avenue to data breaches and privacy intrusion. 

As it is right now, facial recognition has existing gaps which need to be fixed.

Chris Jones @TurnOnVPN

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