Is Facial Recognition Being Used Correctly?
- By Ginger Hill
- May 19, 2014
Sometimes it’s hard to put a name with a familiar face, but Dr. Atick, a pioneer in the biometric industry, specializing in facial recognition, helped ensure that a face could never be forgotten. After investing in biometric technology in the early 90’s, he later sold his company, L-1 Identity, to a French military contractor for millions. Atick has spent his entire career promoting and profiting from this industry, but now, he’s worried about what he’s seeing taking place with this technology.
Walking around a biometrics security industry tradeshow as one of the organizers, Dr. Atick greeted industry representatives at their exhibit booths, but internally, he was pondering:
- Do these companies have policies for retaining, using and reusing the facial data that they are capturing?
- Is it possible for these companies to identify people without their consent?
- Were these companies running face-matching queries for government agencies “under the radar?”
The concern is that facial recognition technology could be taken too far, allowing for mass surveillance where everyone is robbed of their anonymity. Dr. Atick realizes that we are all tracked online, but the street should remain a haven, where people carry out their daily lives in public without being exploited. This type of exploitation could go so far as to impede people’s normal behavior outside of their homes.
Because of this, Dr. Atick is on a mission to educate and convince this industry to create guidelines to make sure no one’s civil liberties are infringed upon. To do this, he suggests that companies:
- Post public notices where they are using facial recognition;
- Seek permission from a person before getting a faceprint and linking it to their name or a code number that uniquely identifies the individual; and
- Use faceprints for the specific purposes they received permission for.
“Some people believe that I am inhibiting the industry from growing, said Dr. Atick to the New York Times. “I disagree. I am helping the industry make difficult choices, but the right choices.”
Ginger Hill is Group Social Media Manager.