DIT facial recognition project with a few hundred dollars, CCTV feeds, and an Amazon account.
Clearview is a sign that – like it or not- facial recognition is no longer a theoretical concept but is being applied even though it has some real biases and accuracy issues with some darker-skinned ethnic groups. There are many issues over when this technology should be applied. Human rights, ethnic profiling, looking into what it is used for. Then there is the question of individual privacy – just who gave them the right to use those billions of pictures to train their AI and what about the privacy of those billions of people?
Facial recognition gets attention because it’s based on human faces – just like what we see in the mirror and during our daily lives. But this is simply the most recognizable aspect of our mass surveillance world. Focusing solely on facial recognition, misses the bigger picture of how much data is being collected about you, how it is being combined and resold, and then how it is being used.
Focusing on facial recognition is a mistake, pointed out Bruce Schneier, technologist and cryptography specialist. It is just one of many forms and technologies that are identifying and tracking our daily activities. A better way to look at online privacy is to divide it into three major points of identification, correlation and discrimination.
Facial recognition is unsettling – and it should be. However, this is only one little part of the larger surveillance environment surrounding us. Yes, it needs to be regulated – and so do many other aspects of data collection. Are we ready to use a VPN to shut out trackers from eavesdropping on us? And while we are at it, it’s time to look at how data brokers are able to collect and trade our data. Finally, what about discrimination? What groups are we willing to let companies or governments group us into — or out of?
Yes, it’s time to take some steps in a more private direction.