In the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, face recognition technology has been adopted worldwide to track the spread of the virus. But privacy experts worry that when rushing to implement the COVID-19 tracking function, the important and entrenched issues surrounding data collection and storage, user consent and monitoring will be completely eliminated. Obviously, the current demand for contactless facial recognition solutions has peaked. In order to curb the spread of the coronavirus, authorities are cutting back on onerous biometric identification procedures that require fingerprints or iris scanning.
Recently, the New York Police Department stop people using fingerprint IDs to complete the security procedures. This has created a reason for facial recognition companies to step in and market their services in providing contact-less identification methods. Second, facial-recognition companies are customizing their solutions to better track citizens who may be positive for coronavirus. Tracking coronaviruses really matters especially when there are stories about “super communicators” who fail to isolate themselves after testing for a positive coronavirus, potentially spreading the virus to others. During the COVID-19 pandemic, face recognition systems certainly have clearly become a substitute for fingerprints and other biometrics that rely on touch sensors. However, privacy and personal rights issues remain unchanged.
Facial recognition is not something new. The European Union last year approved a huge biometric database that combines data from law enforcement agencies, border patrol personnel, and more data applicable to EU and non-EU citizens. The privacy debate on facial recognition has also been around for a long time. In fact, last week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over its use of facial recognition technology at airports. In addition, California passed a bill in September that bar law enforcement from using cameras with face recognition function. Nevertheless, people worry that the current panic surrounding coronavirus could lead to people turning a blind eye to their privacy risks.
To make facial recognition systems acceptable and widely used means of verifying our own identity, we first need to ensure that the privacy of individuals is protected. The data should be collected, stored and managed in a responsible manner, and the information is secure. With facial recognition technology, it is easier than ever for governments to monitor and track citizens, undermining the supposed privacy of anonymity. Any organization that currently uses facial recognition must be extra careful and should disclose its data collection practices. It’s hard to imagine that a hacker would track a database of facial recognition data to use it.
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