Facial Recognition And Internet Privacy


As human beings, we are deeply interconnected through natural facial recognition technology. It would not be incorrect to say that we are programmed to recognize faces. In fact, we see faces when they are not even there, through a feature of our evolution known as “pareidolia.” This is the phenomenon that makes us prone to seeing faces in clouds, trees, patterns on the ceiling, etc. Most people are better at knowing whether or not they have seen a certain face before than they are at remembering names.

But, what if machines had the same ability? What if a bank security camera could record your face as you walked down the sidewalk and link your facial features to your online accounts, to your bank account, police records, and so on? In such a world, privacy could be a thing of the past, and freedom of movement may also disappear one day.

The State of Facial Recognition Technology: How Privacy Vanishes Online

Your face, the distance between your eyes, the proportion of the triangle formed by your pupils and nose, and the one formed by the top of your nose and the corners of your mouth – these are biometric data, and companies are eager to record, measure, and store it. Why? Largely for marketing purposes. The triangles described above are similar, if not the precise way, machines will learn to spot you- and they can do it through any webcam, cell phone camera, or any image recording device with a computational core and an internet connection. This is how privacy vanishes online.

The question is when machines can recognize you everywhere, will you have privacy anywhere, and if not- what is to be done?

Facial Recognition & Facial Authentication

Like what remains of our privacy now, the privacy we have lost has been given away willingly. We were warned by computer techs like John McAfee and Edward Snowden that government agencies and advertising companies were vacuuming up all of our personal data. They do it to develop the ability to predict when you will get the notion to buy a certain type of product. Most people have had the experience of receiving an advertisement for something they had only talked about recently. Well, soon companies will be able to locate you on your webcam by face and show you ads any time, any place.

The question is, will you consent when applications and websites ask you to use your face as a form of password? If the answer is “no,” you need to adjust your privacy and online safety settings.

How to Protect Yourself From Non-Consensual Facial Recognition Technology 

The good news is that none of this is news to people working in the tech privacy sector. For example, Mark Zuckerberg famously puts a piece of tape over his webcam and has done so for years. This is one step you could take to prevent companies from using your facial biometrics to spot you in public for the rest of your life and erase your digital footprint.

Oddly enough, face masks might be our best defense against this kind of invasion of privacy. Virtual private networks, (VPN), a program that masks your location online, and anti-malware are the best solutions we have at present.

At the end of the day, advertisers are never going to stop trying to track us. It’s up to us to protect our own privacy by using the tools available to do so.