How Facial Recognition could Change the World

Facial recognition hardware and software have been changing the world for a time. Law enforcement and Governments have been using facial recognition to track, locate, identify and capture suspects or missing persons. The classified systems that governments and law enforcement use can be far more sophisticated than the public will ever know. 

But when facial recognition becomes a part of social networking or everyday activities, the sophisticated systems are made available to anyone with access to the web. As a result, the potential dangers that come from facial recognition software become severe.

For example, anyone can snag a Facebook photo during one of the many privacy breaches that go on there. Total strangers can then use facial recognition applications and GPS software to track the person as they move through social networking sites, go anywhere on the web and move anywhere throughout the real world.

Vast numbers of social network users have no idea of how to protect their social networking accounts, to limit access to their information, or to put protections on their mobile devices. As a result, they have no idea when someone is following them with facial recognition features.

When the dangerous combination of facial recognition and GPS locating is buried within smartphone applications, games and other features , anyone could find out where a person is at any given time. Worse, a person’s movements can be tracked and recorded over time, presenting a history of their movements that could allow predicting future movements. Meanwhile, the person being tracked has no clue that they are in someone’s sights.

Having a history of a person’s movements is the key to predicting where that person is likely to be at a future time and date. This means that individuals who regularly park in isolated parking lots, then walk alone into vast and isolated complexes would be more vulnerable than ever before.

This Forbes article shows how anyone with the right software could get an individuals social security number just through facial recognition programs. Online, the social security number is the key to a person’s entire life.

Google now owns the same software company, Pitt Patt, that is mentioned in the Forbes article. Google already has unprecedented access and power to get into the business of most web users. According to Fast Company, Google is struggling with ways to use this software without repeating past privacy violation mistakes. But the technology would allow Google to catch up with Facebook in using facial recognition to link people:

” to quickly create a social graph that’s as complex and smart as Facebook’s is: By encouraging users to enable face recognition, and working out who’s most often in photos and videos together, Google could almost certainly map a complicated network of friendship relationships by inferring them, and thus “steal” Facebook’s biggest jewel without any actual theft.”

Apple acquired Polar Rose, a facial recognition software from a Swedish firm, according to Venturebeat.

Facebook has had facial recognition since early 2011.

Facial recognition cameras can be installed for surveillance. In combination with facial recognition in social networking accounts, not only can a person be recognized by their own web enabled devices, the recognition extends to anywhere in the physical world where a facial recognition camera is installed. Such cameras do not have to be ubiquitous. Most humans are creatures of habit. They go through regular routes and routines in life.

It only takes some extrapolating between points in the real world to know exactly where a person has been, then to predict exactly where a person will go.

The problem will be with misuse, abuse and hacking by governments or individuals who mean harm. This turns marketing entities that snag details about a person into potentially harmful entities. It only takes one hacker or a rogue employee to access databases and cause great harm to many people.

A worse problem is with the consumers who readily jump on the newest technology and social networking bandwagon. Many do not even examine the issue or listen to the warnings before they allow an unknown site to access their Facebook accounts. Young people and children have no idea that dangerous individuals could be checking in with them at the next shop or event.

There is already no escape for people because social networkers have already put up photos of their friend, their children, their co workers or even bystanders. They have exposed and will expose those individuals to incredibly intrusive facial recognition technologies. As a result, even the most security savvy web user could be exposed simply because they were once in a photo with other people.

In the future, a person will be able to obtain the identity of anyone who comes into their smartphone camera’s viewfinder. By waving the camera around or snapping a picture, then invoking applications that can find web information about the person, here comes the capability to track total strangers if the conditions are right.

How will such ubiquitous and accessible facial recognition change the world? It will make the world a place where no personal or business privacy exists. No one will be able to use existing street sense to protect themselves from individual predators, deviant groups, foreign or domestic governments, or corporate interests.

Welcome to a world of 7 billion people who have the potential to become “big brothers” in the course of a person’s lifetime!