September 25, 2016

Facial Recognition Software Can Lead to Identity Theft

You probably have a face, right? Well, if you do, then the contents of this article may apply to you. Do you use Facebook? Then sit up and take notice. You might know about the photo tagging function that Facebook employs for personal pictures across all of its users. You select someone out from your photos whose faces are depicted, attach their name to them, and voilà – they have an instant connection with you for anyone who sees it. But what if this simple act has a more ominous side to it?

Defining Face Recognition Software

This software recognizes certain parameters in an image and renders them through several processes to match them to an existing photo in a database. It accomplishes this through mathematic algorithms about the features in a person's face, and uses them to find matching features. This works because no two people have the same exact face. There will always be something different from one face to another. Yes, even the smallest crease in their complexion can make all the difference.

The Intended Usage for the Software

Scanning up someone's face will let agents and police recognize who an offender actually is. On more innocent levels, sites such as Apple (with their iPhone technology), Google, and Facebook are using these technologies in a similar way to help friends recognize a person in photographs on a user's profile page. Harmless, right? In theory.

The Negative Implications for Face Recognition Software

Carnegie Mellon has revealed some dangers to facial recognition technology. When you combine software that can recognize the face of someone with extremely popular social media sites, you will have negative implications. The chances for identity theft massively increase with the availablility of such software. There is a reason computer forensics careers are becoming so popular. The need for such professionals increases as the risk for criminals to use software for identity theft also increases. If you give someone the outlet and the means, then they are likely identity thieves. They'll go with what works, and facial recognition technology does work...perhaps a little too well.

According to one privacy expert named  Alessandro Acquisti, this technology makes it possible for a criminal to identify strangers through their photos and gain their personal information. It is also quite possible for even their Social Security numbers to become compromised, according to one of the tests conducted by Acquisti and his research team. In it, they combined software that anyone could obtain and use. Very scary stuff.

If you are faced with a choice of opting out of facial recognition, then you should probably take it. This technology has severe ramifications for people who use it with the wrong intentions. Social media companies should leave this kind of thing up to the law, if it is even acceptable for a government to use it on their citizens.

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