• Shivam Singh

What is Facial Recognition stealing from us?

Updated: Oct 29, 2020

A Facial recognition system is a technology capable of identifying or verifying a person from a digital image or a video frame from a video source. A facial recognition system uses biometrics to map facial features from a photograph or video. It compares the information with a database of known faces to find a match.

How do we remember faces? We see a person's face and their facial attributes with our eyes, we store these attributes in our mind and when we see that face again we recall these attributes from our memory to recognize that particular face. Very similar to us, the facial recognition sees a person through a Camera, runs the attributes through the CPU/algorithms and collect it all in a Database.

The facial recognition market is expected to grow to $7.7 billion in 2022 from $4 billion in 2017. That’s because facial recognition has all kinds of commercial applications. It can be used for everything from surveillance to marketing.

How does it work?

So how does facial recognition work? Technologies vary, but here are the basic steps:

Step 1. A picture of your face is captured from a photo or video. Your face might appear alone or in a crowd. Your image may show you looking straight ahead or nearly in profile.

Step 2. Facial recognition software reads the geometry of your face. Key factors include the distance between your eyes and the distance from forehead to chin. The software identifies facial landmarks, one system identifies 68 of them, that are key to distinguishing your face. The result: your facial signature.

Step 3. Your facial signature, a mathematical formula, is compared to a database of known faces. According to a May 2018 report, the FBI has had access to 412 million facial images for searches.

Step 4. A determination is made. Your faceprint may match that of an image in a facial recognition system database.

What does it steal from us?

Facial Recognition technology is getting popular by the day and many companies and organizations are adapting to it as a primary technology. Apple introduced Face ID in its iPhone X and has eventually made it the primary unlocking method for its newer phones. While Apple's Face ID uses a 3D model of a person's face which doesn't allow the phone to be manipulated by any images of the same person but other brands use a regular 2D scan of a person's face which not only increases the risk of privacy invasion but also some of these companies have allegedly leaked user data, which may contain the Facial Recognition data of the users.

Facial Recognition is also used at certain Airports, Colleges, Businesses, Retail stores, Marketers, and advertisers and wherever used exists a database of Facial Data of thousands and millions of people. Facial Data includes every possible facial feature of a person like the width of the mouth, length of the nose, the distance between the eyes and the cheeks, etc. This data is stored with information about the person like the name and the age at the least.

The algorithm, if described simply, takes three pictures. The first picture is the anchor ( picture provided ), the next two pictures are the pictures of 2 different people( that already exist in the database) with similar facial features to the Anchor photo. Then it deeply compares the Anchor to the two pictures and ideally produces the minimum differences between the Anchor photo to match and confirm as the same person or maximum differences to be able to deny it as the same person.

If you upload an image on Google's Reverse image search, it'll show you on what websites that picture has appeared or it'll show you visually similar images with the same coloring and composition. The leading search engine in Russia, called Yandex also has a reverse image search except it's not looking for visually similar images, instead, it is looking for the same face or visually similar faces. The difference between both search engines is that Google hasn't switched to the Facial Recognition system and Yandex has!

On Google, you can enter a name and look for a face but on Yandex, you can enter a face and look for a NAME.

Reasons to be concerned about your privacy

Privacy matters. Privacy refers to any rights you have to control your personal information and how it’s used, and that can include your faceprint.

So, what are the issues? Here are some:

  • Security. Your facial data can be collected and stored, often without your permission. Its possible hackers could access and steal that data.

  • Prevalence. Facial recognition technology is becoming more widespread. That means your facial signature could end up in a lot of places. You probably won’t know who has access to it.

  • Ownership. You own your face, the one atop your neck, but your digital images are different. You may have given up your right to ownership when you signed up on a social media network. Or maybe someone tracks down images of you online and sells that data.

  • Safety. Facial recognition could lead to online harassment and stalking. How? For example, someone takes your picture on a subway or some other public place and uses facial recognition software to find out exactly who you are.

  • Mistaken identity. Say, for instance, law enforcement uses facial recognition to try to identify someone who robbed a corner store. Facial recognition systems may not be 100 percent accurate. What if the police think the suspect is you?

  • Basic freedoms. Government agencies and others could have the ability to track you. What you do and where you go might no longer be private. It could become impossible to remain anonymous.

In the end, any digital image or picture of yours can be used against you easily as this technology exists and is getting better as the day passes. Technology grows and develops every second. It exists to make our life easier and changes the way we interact with our surroundings. But with it comes some drawbacks and these concerns regarding the Facial Recognition technology is one of them.

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#facialrecognition #privacy #invasion #faceid #facedetection #dailydialect

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