I love technology. I can’t imagine life without modern conveniences like telephones, email, and the Internet. Not to mention running water, air conditioning, and automobiles.
But sometimes, technology gets… well, creepy.
And the creepier the technology, the more likely your friendly Big Brother will use it to keep tabs on you. A case in point is the increasing sophistication of face recognition technology.
Face recognition combines digital images of faces with -software that creates a unique “faceprint” of each one, along with a database of images against which “faceprints” can be compared.
A few years ago, face recognition systems were almost laughably inaccurate. I have an article in my archives from 2003, in which two Japanese tourists visiting Australia fooled an early version of the technology simply by swapping passports.
However, this strategy wouldn’t fool today’s face recognition software.
In the US, you generally have no right to privacy with respect to your facial features. And no federal law regulates the collection of biometric data. If you’re in a public place, the courts have concluded you have a greatly reduced expectation of privacy. Anyone with a camera can legally take your picture in a public space.
But the rules for face recognition are beginning to change, thanks to laws in a handful of states and a court decision involving one of the largest collections of faceprints in existence, compiled by Facebook. Earlier this month, a federal judge in California refused to dismiss a class action lawsuit against Facebook brought by residents of Illinois. The lawsuit alleged Facebook collected, stored, and used faceprints in violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). The law is intended to protect the privacy of Illinois residents in their personal biometric data. Regulated biometric identifiers can include a scan of “face geometry.”by