Have you ever been automat- ically tagged in a Facebook
photo or does your smartphone
unlock if it sees your face?
In these situations, you’ve
voluntarily consented to allow
software to authenticate you.
But what happens in situations
where facial recognition is used
without your knowledge?
The U.S. Government
FACIAL RECOGNITION RAISES FEDERAL PRIVACY
Accountability Office (GAO)
released a report in July 2015
that details the confidentiality
issues that facial recognition
technology raises. Building owners may be surprised to
learn that “federal law does not expressly address the cir-
cumstances under which commercial entities can use facial
recognition technology to identify or track individuals, or
when consumer knowledge or consent should be required
for the technology’s use. Further, in most contexts federal
law does not address how personal data derived from the
technology may be used or shared.”
While various statutes already exist to protect personal
information collected by private sector entities, it’s not clear
if facial recognition can be used to identify an individual (as
opposed to simply authenticating them) or if their movements can be tracked.
This lack of legal clarity “also raise[s] concerns that
information collected or associated with facial recognition
technology could be used, shared or sold in ways that consumers do not understand, anticipate or consent to,” notes
This leaves businesses without guidance on how to
properly employ facial recognition and what protections
are required for the biometric data gathered. For example,
while it’s necessary for a business to prominently post that
the premises is under surveillance, management is not
under any obligation to notify occupants that facial recognition technology in use. This eliminates the ability for individuals to “opt in” or consent to being identified.
Particularly if facial recognition analytics are embedded
in surveillance cameras rather than a standalone system,
this setup could make it even more difficult for individuals
to know their faces are being scanned. Until federal guidelines have been clarified, companies may want to err on the
side of caution and ensure occupants electively participate
in facial recognition.
LONG-RANGE IRIS SCANNING
FOR STATIONARY AND MOBILE
It’s not just a scene ripped from a spy movie – the abil- ity to remotely scan a person’s eyes is now a reality.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab Biometrics Center have developed a system that can capture
images up to 40 feet ( 12 meters) away. Using a resolution
of 150 pixels, the technology can track individuals who are
on the move. The advancement has currently been tested
for law enforcement applications, reading a driver’s iris
reflected in the side mirror. Associate Research Professor
and Lab Director Marios Savvides anticipates the technology could save lives as it allows a potentially dangerous
subject to be identified without direct contact. It could also
be a workforce multiplier when used to authenticate large
crowds of people.
FINGERPRINTS ARE A
CONSTANT EVEN AS WE AGE
We accept that our noses and ears will lengthen as time marches on, but what about changes to our fingerprints? The unique pattern of ridges on our fingers have
long been used by forensic experts with the assumption
that they remain static over the years. A study completed
by Michigan State University faculty and published in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences confirms
that fingerprints are fixed. Using multilevel statistical modeling, the records of over 15,500 apprehended subjects
were studied over time periods ranging from 5-12 years.
Adults of varying age, race and gender were included. The
empirical data found that papillary patterns are relatively
stable apart from limited changes caused by physical damage such as scars. This cements fingerprints as one of the
most stable biometric marks.