Monday, June 24, 2013

Can you remember a face? Well don’t worry about it because your next computer will do it for you and in many cases face recognition technology is already in full force as a way for finding people and identifying people quickly. The computer will tell you who you are faster than you can take your identification card out of your pocket. Sounds great until you realize that the government has regulations but everyone else could do whatever they want with your identity. There aren’t ANY laws regulating commerce with face recognition technology. Should we wear a mask when we go out of the house just to be in charge of who takes a picture of our face?

Over the last ten years, the ability of computers to identify faces has gotten much better, faster and cheaper to do. The FBI is expanding it’s data base to include as many faces as they can get while businesses are already marketing products to our profiles. There is new facial recognition software out there that can lock onto a face from a distant camera and then identify you. Surveillance technology has now been taken to the next level. A blurry image can be made clear and a flat image into a 3D model. Even a masked face can be identified by focusing on the eyebrows and scanning for a match.

The software maps a face by using dots that creates a face print of your face. On TV’s you can just say Hi and it will turn on and scroll through your favorite shows. On phones they are changing the use of passwords to face prints. If you simply look at the screen it will start the device for you. The danger in all this is that someone can be tracking you without you even knowing it. This monster technology is headed to the Mall. In the movie called Minority Report staring Tom Cruise, he is walking through the mall and he is bombarded with advertisements and voices from stores trying to lure him in with sales and products that have been booted up from his profile through face recognition.

Big brother is not only watching us from the government but big brother is also big business. Our government has all kinds of restrictions but Target can really target you while you are walking in front of the store. If you bought once a golf shirt they will get an advertisement to you about buying golf clubs. The privacy rules are in force in that government must ask you first permission to use information on you. The rules are in place for government, law enforcement and the military but there aren’t any rules for commerce; no rules for commercial companies. This must change. I want to know who is tracking me at all times.

In Europe there are laws that require companies to get your consent before they collect your face print. America is really lagging behind in their laws on this subject. Contact your Congressman or woman to get cracking on this type of regulation. America protect yourself from unwanted eyes prying into your personal life. Sites like Facebook are already doing much of the work into your lives being made public. If you have been tagged on Facebook, chances are that your face print is on file. Google and Apple also make face prints.

We can argue that my face is my property and is as important as my financial records and as important as my health records but should it be kept private? And how do you keep a face private even if you wanted to? My face is private in that I do not walk around on the street with a tag over my head displaying my name and habits. I want people to still say, Who is that guy? I do not want someone to click a picture of me and immediately my entire profile appears on someone’s smart phone. Wow. People can do that now. Sigh.

Marketing people are not just linking our faces on the street to names, they are linking into our on line profiles with our personal data and shopping history. They can tell us more about us than we even remember.

We used to be worried about privacy on the web. Now we have to worry about privacy from just walking around. So, be a spy. Take a picture of someone, download a free face recognition program that will link into Facebook profiles and then other places you have information on line and you might even get the social security number of the person too. There is no escape. Just try to at least have good things posted about you.

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