Facial recognition: A threat to privacy?
Facial recognition technology is growing at a rapid pace and is being used on a larger scale than ever before, with many tech giants using it as a tool for advertising purposes. It enables marketers to improve their understanding of consumers and create content that responds to real-time factors.
Piccadilly Circus is one of the most populous squares in the UK with approximately 100 million people passing through the large commercial space every month. It is now on the cusp of trialling facial recognition cameras which will be installed behind the huge advertising billboards in the square.
The billboards have been out of action in the last few months but will be revamped with the hidden cameras in place which will have the ability to detect faces, genders and the current moods of the people who pass through the area with 90% accuracy. The aim of the cameras is to tailor brand messages and optimise marketing campaigns by taking in the surroundings and characteristics of people.
In addition to this, the billboards will be able to register the make and model of passing vehicles and offer Wi-Fi to people so that they can interact with the iconic advertising screens. Many researchers have warned that the technology has the potential to track every move that you make online.
The innovative cameras have caused a lot of concern amongst privacy campaigners who claim that the facial recognition technology behind the billboards are ‘incredibly intrusive’ and that installing the cameras represent another step towards a surveillance state.
Many privacy issues have arisen since the cameras were announced. They include questions over the type of information that the cameras will detect, whether the data will be stored somewhere and if the cameras are at risk of being hacked.
In response to the backlash by campaigners, the company behind the Piccadilly Lights screen, Ocean Outlook, claim that although the cameras can detect behaviours and characteristics, the information will not be collected or stored anywhere.
There is no doubt that the facial recognition revolution has huge potential in consumer advertising and security, but could it be a threat to our privacy and will we eventually be identified wherever we go?