When with think of the term “social media,” broadly speaking, the first things that come to mind are our Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram accounts. However, has the time come when our own personal faces need to be included? It’s possible, especially after seeing this segment on 60 Minutes regarding “facial recognition software.” This video is quite long, but this article provides a quick snapshot. In summary, facial recognition is a rapidly growing technology that can recognize, track and analyze people’s faces. Multiple startups are focusing on software that can provide retailers data analytics when people enter and interact in their stores. Many retailers and software providers comment that the data it’s only being used to track “demographics” and “engagement,” but there are no regulations on U.S. companies to use this technology without consent.
This article highlights a $40/month software from a company in NYC company that states their product is being used at a Reebok store on Fifth Avenue. Companies such as Apple and Google already use facial recognition when you’re “tagged” in a photo. Furthermore, the 60 Minutes segment showed an example in which a store sent you coupons once they recognized you walking in (this particular one required your consent). Interestingly, Google just announced today that they will NOT be allowing facial recognition software for Google Glasses due to mounting privacy pressures. However, the bottom line is that the delineation between our offline and online worlds appear to closing with this technology and it’s potentially leaving little privacy for individuals.
My questions to the class:
1) Are you comfortable knowing that a retailer could be using software to track your face without your consent?
2) On the other hand, what are your thoughts about U.S. government agency’s and their ability to use facial recognition technology? If they use it in an appropriate manner is it still too “big brother?”