Facial recognition is increasingly used in a variety of contexts – from photo tagging on social networking sites to targeting advertisements in stores or public places to security and authentication – but the technology poses complex privacy issues that do not fit squarely with present laws. Facial recognition and other automated systems that collect sensitive information about individuals in public places have the potential to significantly alter the ways in which individuals are identified, tracked and marketed to. The privacy issues associated with facial recognition are compounded by the wide availability of this powerful technology. Facial recognition is no longer used just by entities with substantial technical and financial resources, such as government agencies or corporate actors; the sophisticated capability to detect unique facial characteristics is making its way into handheld consumer devices and free software packages, opening the door to many millions of users.
With such a broad user base and wide variety of applications, facial recognition technology will be abused.
Updated on January 22, 2012.