Facial Recognition Software
Facial recognition software can be very useful when it is used to check people's identities for security purposes, or to catch criminals by matching them against a video surveillance tape. Various types of this software are used by police, security services, passport control officers and other government departments.
Faces Instead Of Passwords
There are also proposals to use this software instead of passwords at, for example, ATM machines. This type of software is already available to download into your computer. It uses your webcam in real time to scan your face and allow you into websites so you won't have to remember lots of passwords. Large employers can also install this type of software to safeguard your work computer from misuse by others. They can also attach it to employee time tracking software so that can log you in or log you out of your workplace except you.
Now the social networking site Facebook is going to implement facial recognition technology on its site. You will no longer have to 'tag' your own photos with your friends' names individually. The software will do it for you. One of the problems is that the default setting allows automatic tagging. This means that you will have to 'opt out', instead of having to 'opt in'. U.S. Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts is very concerned about this development and said "If this new feature is as useful as Facebook claims, it should be able to stand on its own, without an automatic sign-up that changes users' privacy settings without their permission". One of the reasons this development is worrying is that many people, especially young people, never even look at their privacy settings, never mind change them! This software may make them extremely vulnerable as even if they don't 'tag' themselves, their friends may be able to 'tag' them automatically regardless.
In the future you could take a photo with your camera phone of someone you don't know and upload it to your Facebook page and then find out their name. It is already technically possible for the software to link the photo to their name and for you to be able to see their page profile. However because "it's a very touchy subject" according to the product manager of Facebook Photos, Sam Odio, Facebook is not linking photos with page profiles at the moment. If or when they do, it would make it very easy for people with malicious intent to find out lots of information about someone and harass them over the internet or in person. Stalkers would have a field day as it would be almost impossible to find out who had information about you to use it against you.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, already believes that privacy is no longer a social norm. Facial recognition software combined with GPS and Google maps may mean that soon there will be no such thing as privacy. Even ten years ago police were able to use this type of software to scan crowds. At the 35th Super Bowl in Tampa, Florida, the police, without the awareness of the public, found 19 people with outstanding arrest warrants by using facial recognition. Many people feel that the use of this technology, especially when it is used covertly in this way, is an infringement on personal freedom and liberty. They also believe it may be the first step on a slippery slope to a totalitarian society.