If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear. That’s always the classic argument trotted out in support of any new surveillance technology. As facial recognition technology is rolled out across the globe, proponents argue it will help keep us safe and protect us from crime, terrorism, and other threats.
However, there are deep concerns about the technology. Some analysts argue that facial recognition algorithms still suffer from false positives and racial bias. Furthermore, the widespread abuse of the technology by the Chinese government in Xinjiang has raised serious ethical questions.
Want to learn more about facial recognition? Check out our infographic below (click for a bigger version):
What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Don, who is extremely positive about the benefits of facial recognition technologies. He thinks they can help protect our borders, and keep us safe from crime and terrorism.
To get a response to Don, we put his comment to Dieter Romann, the head of Germany’s federal police force. What would he say?
I agree with Don. Within the framework of the Berlin Südkreuz “Safety Station” project, the German Federal Police together with the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the Federal Criminal Police Office and Deutsche Bahn tested the use of intelligent video analysis technology between 1 August 2017 and 31 July 2018. The results of the project found that state-of-the-art facial recognition systems are a good support tool for averting danger and for police searches for offenders and terrorists.
For a different perspective, we also spoke to Silkie Carlo, the director of Big Brother Watch, a UK non-profit organisation that campaigns against mass surveillance. What would she say?
Next up, we had a comment from Duncan saying he supports facial recognition technology being used on publicly-controlled CCTV. However, what about private CCTV? Shops, bars, and music concerts are all pioneering facial recognition technology and, while there’s been a lot of scrutiny over facial recognition used by police or intelligence services, should we be more worried about its use in the private sector?
How would Silkie Carlo from Big Brother Watch respond?
And what would Germany’s federal police chief, Dieter Romann, say in response?
Duncan might have read that in the US hidden cameras are sometimes used behind shelves that record the eye movements of customers to analyse their buying behaviour – what products were looked at, when, how, and for how long and, above all, why ultimately the purchase decision was made. In Germany, the use of so-called eye-tracking would violate the right to informational self-determination and therefore infringe the data protection regulations. There are various actors in Germany who ensure that these rules are adhered to.
Do you mind if you face is scanned by police? Is there better oversight of facial recognition in the public sector? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!