The decade gone by has seen a lot of discussions around data privacy and necessitated the formulation of Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) around the world.
By Iffy Kukkoo
06 Apr, 2020
The decade gone by has seen a lot of discussions around data privacy and necessitated the formulation of Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) around the world. The debate is set to become more heated in the coming years. Disruptive technologies such as Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Cloud Computing are being leveraged to develop numerous use cases for making life easier.
Facial recognition is one such area that is changing almost every industry. Scientists and engineers have been working since 1960s to train a computer to recognize faces and make decisions just like humans would. Now we have the associated technologies that has made facial recognition of practical use.
In this series, we focus on the positives of the face recognition technology, its use cases across industries, and the stuff you need to careful about – data protection.
If you use the face unlock feature of your smartphone, you’re already using facial recognition technology. Companies like Google are already using facial recognition technology to group all your photographs together.
Simple as it sounds, there are many complex activities going on in the background that make facial recognition possible. We break it down into four steps for the sake of simplicity and understanding:
Given the advancements in mobile devices and high-speed wireless connectivity, this entire process is often completed within seconds. As technology is becoming more reliable and affordable, facial recognition is getting plenty of traction across industries – more on that later.
The biggest concern with facial recognition is that your facial data is often being captured without your permission. Our cities are full of Close-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras – parks, shopping malls, highway toll plazas, airports, residential societies, streets – they are everywhere! As we now know, all it takes is a single image or a video footage to extract facial data, process it and store it in the form of a unique face print. It can be used for malicious reasons such as gaining unauthorized access to systems, wrongfully authorizing financial transactions and much more.
Sometimes, you yourself share your facial signature without realizing it. Think of the countless selfies and other photographs you’ve uploaded on social media websites – are you really sure their use is restricted to the intended purpose? Facebook has already been ordered by German and Irish data regulators to delete all the facial recognition user data it had gathered for suggesting tags, as users were not giving their consent.
GDPR defines biometric data as:
[Biometric data] means personal data resulting from specific technical processing relating to the physical, physiological or behavioural characteristics of a natural person, which allow or confirm the unique identification of that natural person, such as facial images or dactyloscopic data.
Facial data clearly falls under this.
Given the manifold benefits of FRT, it would be unwise to ignore it because of privacy concerns. Instead, you can have the best of both worlds – use cutting edge Facial Recognition Technology while being on the right side of the law. Despite its limitations, GDPR has provisioned clauses under which FRT (and any other technology that uses biometrics) can be used after taking user consent.
These are the use cases where FRT can be applied fairly easily:
We will explore FRT’s legal and implementation aspects further in the next articles of this series.
Iffy is our exclusive resident technology newshound editor, relentlessly exploring the beauties of the world from a 4th dimensional viewpoint. When not crafting, editing or publishing our IT content, she spends most of her time helping people understand life and its basic principles. You know, the little things around you, that you've failed to grasp each day.
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