Don’t Look At My Face Anymore

June 9, 2019

Not so long ago, facial recognition meant that photographs were passed around, published in newspapers, or stuck on public billboards to help identify and capture criminals. But today, technology plays an important role. You might have seen cameras in places like airports that scan the faces of millions of people each year. These cameras can help the police identify potential suspects, but there are many critics of this type of technology.

Recently, San Francisco decided to ban the use of facial recognition by the police and other agencies. It came as a surprise to some because San Francisco is considered a very technology-friendly city. And hey, if facial recognition is useful and helps catch criminals, why is the city banning it? Well, those who support the ban believe that the government shouldn’t have the power to track people going about their daily lives. Not everyone is a criminal after all, and how can we be sure that authorities are using the data for the right reasons? Also, the tracking is often conducted without consent. Has anyone ever asked you if it was okay to film you at the airport? Probably not. Additionally, the technology isn’t considered one hundred percent accurate and could result in false identification. Those unhappy with the ban consider it extreme—after all, technology has improved vastly in the last few years, and these critics believe that the benefits of keeping people safe outweigh the challenges. A third perspective involves alternatives to an outright ban. Maybe the use of facial recognition should be paused while the government comes up with guidelines on how and where it can be used?

What do you think? Is tracking people on camera helpful or harmful?