As mass market face recognition rollouts like those at Facebook, Delta and JetBlue reveal, consumers are getting far more comfortable with the benefits of the technology, and brands are doing a great job of educating consumers about privacy. Many of the world’s top experts think that face recognition actually protects privacy far better than most surveillance technologies, and in fact, it just might protect your privacy far better than several technologies you use on a daily basis.
We recently hosted an on-demand webinar about face recognition privacy. Our panel featured one of the leading legal experts about face recognition for retail use, Thomas McCally from Carr Maloney. When we asked McCally about privacy, he revealed his belief that the benefits of face recognition vastly outweigh any perceived privacy costs. According to McCally, “The safety and security issues that the technology brings to the table are so powerful that the privacy issues can be [addressed. It doesn’t see race, it doesn’t see gender. It is just capturing metrics.”
To put privacy in perspective, let’s take a look at three common technologies that are way more intrusive than facial recognition.
Carrying around cash can be cumbersome. Using a credit card offers a layer of convenience, while often adding perks like free travel miles. A recent MIT study, which examined credit card purchases for over 1 million people over three months, showed that the scientists could identify you with more than 90% accuracy by just looking at four purchases. And these results came after companies anonymized transaction records, wiping away names and other personal details.
According to privacy consultant and author Rebecca Herold, “how metadata can be used to pinpoint specific individuals … raises the question of how such data would be used within insurance actuarial calculations, insurance claims and adjustments, loan and mortgage application considerations, divorce proceedings.”
Perhaps the most interesting point McCally made during the webinar is that facial recognition is a lot less intrusive than several common technologies that we use on a daily basis. “Look at the amount of tracking that goes on through web use, credit card use. They are tracking way more data about individuals than [face recognition],” McCally stated. “Not only does face recognition offer opportunities to save lives, it is far less likely to compromise privacy than a host of other widely used technology.”
Google has given us the power to take a virtual stroll down most streets with their Street View. But maintaining Street View requires Google associates taking clandestine photographs of houses, streets and even people. It’s relatively common for people to appear in Street View in compromising positions (e.g. sunbathing in a swimsuit, leaving disreputable places of business, etc.). And for many of the Google Maps mobile features to work, you need to constantly be sending it your location data. While groundbreaking, Google’s map technology is far more intrusive than simply collecting biometric data.
Facebook offers a host of benefits. After all, can you imagine remembering all of your acquaintances birthdays without Facebook? But to gain access to Facebook’s many benefits, you basically have to check your privacy at the door. Like Google Maps, Facebook tracks your location by default. But that’s really just the beginning. Facebook might appear like a social network, but it makes its revenue as an advertising platform. Every behavior you engage in is tracked and that data can be shared with marketers, eager to find suitable leads. Facebook has even removed the option to make a profile that truly can’t be found.
To find out what more top experts are saying about facial recognition, check out our on-demand webinar Face Recognition: The Inevitable Path to Retail Adoption.