Will your privacy completely vanish? It depends how we use facial recognition


We recently launched our 12 Themes for 2012, shown below, in which the third of the 12 themes is ‘Privacy vanishes’.

One of the drivers of privacy vanishing is the rise of facial recognition. As the 2012 themes document notes, while Facebook has prominently launched its facial recognition technology, Apple and Google have facial recognition capabilities that they have not yet launched. The landscape is now changing.

Earlier this year Google’ Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said that the “surprising accuracy” of facial recognition technology is “very concerning.” The Daily Telegraph reported that

“a database using facial recognition software is “unlikely” to be a service that Google will create. Schmidt did suggest that, while Google may not build a facial recognition search system, “some company, by the way, is going to cross that line.”

Now Google+’s photo app has just launched a feature called Find My Face. As Read Write Web describes, this is quite different from Facebook’s feature, not least because it only works when you turn it on, and it is not turned on by default.

There is no question that the implications of facial recognition technology reach beyond what most people can imagine today. Whether that future is dark depends on how those technologies are implemented. Some of the groundwork is being laid today.