Facial Recognition Systems Raises Privacy Concerns Amid COVID-19
How Reliable are Facial Recognition Systems to Protect Personal Information?
Facial recognition is a recognition technique used to recognize the faces of individuals whose images saved in the data set. Despite the point that other methods of identification can be more accurate, facial recognition has always remained a significant focus of research because of its non-meddling nature and because it is people’s facile method of personal identification.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, facial recognition technology has become better at identifying masked faces, as per the study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. It is the NIST’s first study that measures the performance of face recognition algorithms developed following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As countries like China, Singapore, and the UK see damaging results because of the facial recognition system, it is hard to say whether this technology is a boon or curse. Facial recognition system raises privacy concerns.
Although adopting this technology is helpful for the governments for smooth operations during the pandemic, some factors may lead to the public outcry against the technology’s use. The factors include:
- Less accuracy and higher biases, specifically when applied to women and minorities
- Distrust in the security of data privacy and the potential loss of both personally identifiable as well as biometric information due to a data infringement
- Lack of understanding or adequate explanation of how and where the technology will be used
- Old and general creepiness
Why is there so much concern about putting facial recognition technology in the hands of the authoritative positions?
Lack of Federal Regulations
The main reason for concerns among citizens is the lack of federal regulations surrounding the use of face recognition technology. Many fear how accurate the technology is and if there are biases and misinformation in these technologies.
The issue of data privacy has already stopped the implementation of several face recognition systems. For instance, the Lockport School District in New Work state attempted to roll out a facial recognition system for its students. As parents, teachers, and privacy advocates protested, the New York State Education Department kept the project on hold until a privacy assessment could be conducted to ensure the encryption of students’ data.
Misuse of Law Enforcement
Not only is this a concern with the possibility of misidentifying someone and leading to wrongful convictions, but it can also damage our society by being abused by law enforcement for things like constant surveillance of the public. The Chinese government is currently using facial recognition to arrest jaywalkers and other petty crimes that cause debate among what is considered fundamental civil rights and privacy issues or protecting the public. Accuracy and accountability are necessary when it comes to the use of technology.
Finding the Balance
It is relatively easy to understand the justifiable concerns over the use of biometrics like facial recognition. The government is required to use and implement such tools effectively.
There’s no magic, nor a ‘one size fits’ all solution. However, dismissing biometrics as a whole due to privacy or authoritarian concerns is not a valid argument.
With effective biometric data security and appropriate policies and procedures to make sure privacy, the use of biometrics such as facial recognition can dramatically reduce data breaches, protect personal information, and keep an individual safer in a dangerous world.