Is Facial Recognition Invading Your Privacy?

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- Let me get a

- [Robot Voice] Order confirmed, citizen number five,

extra pickles, medium fries.

Thank you for your order.

- But I never told you what I wanted to order.

- [Robot Voice] Order confirmed, thank you citizen.

Next in line please.

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- Is it just me, or does facial recognition

seem to be creeping more and more into our daily lives?

I mean, my face is pretty much being scanned on the regular.

Sometimes it's my choice.

Like when I used a Snapchat filter,

they rely on facial recognition technology.

And I don't seem to mind because, well they're awesome.

Facebook's auto-tagging makes

uploading my photos super easy.

And instead of remembering a passcode,

the new iPhone X uses your face to unlock it.

Oh and by the way, there actually is

a KFC restaurant in China that scans your face

and orders your food for you,

so look out for that, I guess to become a thing.

But for the most part the media focuses

on the darker aspects of the technology.

- Nearly half of American adults are

in facial recognition databases.

- The technology can single us out

in real time as we go about our daily business.

- It's mass surveillance for the physical world.

- So that got me thinking,

should we smile and welcome facial recognition?

Or should we be worried that it's gonna

be a major invasion of our privacy?

Here's how facial recognition works.

Computers map your face by analyzing dozens of different

facial landmarks, like the depth of your eye sockets,

the curve of your chin, and the size of your nose.

Computers use artificial intelligence to analyze

all this data.

Basically, you have to train the computers

on thousands of photos before they can

accurately start identifying people by creating faceprints.

Which are kinda like fingerprints

in that they're unique to each person.

Now there's a growing concern that facial recognition

will be used by governments and law enforcement

to monitor and track people.

Now if we're talking about catching terrorists

or identifying criminals,

the technology might be a great tool to help keep us safe.

But this same technology can also be used

on us law abiding citizens.

In the U.S., there are an estimated

60 million surveillance cameras,

meaning there's a pretty good chance that our faces

are being recorded every day.

So theoretically, if the FBI, CIA, or NSA

had access to that footage, they can track the movements

of any person 24/7.

They'd know where you work, where you shop,

who you like to hang with.

Like I don't want the government to know

that I like to get my acupuncture done

at 7:30 in the morning on a Tuesday.

Now this may sound futuristic and sci-fi,

but the governments are using facial recognition

right now.

In some U.S. airports, border agents are scanning

the faces of foreign visitors and matching those scans

to their visa applications.

It could be a more secure way to track when people

enter and leave the country.

The government is also partnering with some airlines

to use facial recognition instead of boarding passes.

For U.S. citizens, the facial scans are checked against

photos stored in police databases.

Now you may be thinking, "I've never committed a crime,

"my face isn't gonna be in a police database."

Well police and the FBI have scanned millions

of faces using drivers licenses and passport photos.

A recent report out of Georgetown University

reveals that if you're an adult in the U.S.,

there's a 50-50 chance that your photo

is stored in a massive facial recognition database

that law enforcement can access anytime it wants

for pretty much any reason.

You know the classic police lineup we see in the movies?

The detective invites the witness down to the station

to pick out the criminal who's standing

in the line with a bunch of other people?

These photo databases are basically digital police lineups,

allowing law enforcement to compare one face

to millions of others.

Check out what's happening in Moscow, Russia's capital.

The government is adding facial recognition technology

to its network of 170,000 surveillance cameras

located throughout the city.

It's supposed to be used to identify criminals

and boost security, but what if you're at

a rally protesting the government?

The police could use facial recognition to

pick you out of a crowd,

and maybe even punish you for your actions.

And covering your face might not protect you.

A new research paper demonstrated that facial recognition

could correctly identify a concealed face 67% of the time.


In China, the government takes

facial recognition to the next level.

To curb jaywalking, which apparently is a big problem

in the country, the Chinese government has resorted

to public shaming.

Jaywalkers get their photo snapped

by government-owned cameras, and then 20 minutes later,

their picture is up on a giant screen

with their ID number and home address.

Again, yikes.

Now facial recognition is not just about safety

or tracking down criminals, it's also about making money.

When you and your friends are auto-tagged

when you upload a photo to Google or Facebook,

that's one more data point that companies can use

to track what you do online,

what you like, and what you buy.

But that's the cost of free technology.

It's right there in the terms of service

that none of us ever read.

We use a super useful tool at no cost,

the tech companies mine every photo,

status update, and tweet for info

that online advertisers are willing to pay big money for.

Facebook and Google alone are predicted

to make $106 billion from advertising this year.

That's nearly half of all the money made

from digital advertising in the world.

Big box retailers are getting into the game too.

Walmart has filed a patent for facial recognition

technology that can identify

when shoppers are unhappy or frustrated.

Which the company says will allow it

to provide better customer service.

But that same data can also be used to track purchases

and predict what items you might buy in the future.

So now we'd like to hear from you.

Where would you draw the line?

In what situation would you be

comfortable allowing facial recognition?


Law enforcement only?

Just private companies?

Or pretty much never?

Let us know in the comments below.

And do not forget to subscribe.

And if you wanna learn more about

technology and privacy,

check out this episode we did on cyber security

to learn how to keep all your digital info safe.

Till next time guys.

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