Facial Recognition System -A Privacy Threat?

Facial Recognition System -A Privacy Threat?

8 mins read649 Views Comment
Atul Harsha
Senior Manager Content
Updated on Jul 17, 2022 18:05 IST

Facial Recognition System is setting its hold in the industry exponentially with its wide application. Stick with me till the end to find how big companies are this your faceprint to create billion dollar industry.


What Is Facial Recognition System?

Facial recognition system is a software-based method of recognizing a human face. A face recognition system maps facial characteristics from an image or video using biometrics. In order to verify the subject, the software matches it with the stored data of faces from the database. Facial recognition is an excellent feature when it comes to the biometric verification of a person’s identification. but it also raises serious privacy concerns.

Face recognition: Digital scrutiny

As cool as this feature seems like, it comes at a huge price. And I am not talking about money you spend. In today’s world data is the new gold. If you read this blog till end, I assure you, you will rethink each time you unlocked your phone using this feature. You guessed it right! I am taking about the most used smart Facial Recognition feature available in all your latest smart phones. Let’s see how does it work, what kind of your data is collected in the process and how the companies are making tons of money with it.

The facial recognition industry is predicted to expand from $4 billion in 2017 to $7.7 billion in 2022. This is due to the fact that face recognition has several business uses. It may be used for a variety of purposes, including monitoring and marketing.

But here’s where things become tricky. If you value your privacy, you undoubtedly want some say over how your personal information – your data — is utilized. The truth is, your “faceprint” is data.

How Facial Recognition System Works?

You might be great at identifying people’s faces and probably have no difficulty identifying the face of a family member, friend, or acquaintance. You recognize their face characteristics — their eyes, nose, and mouth — and how they interact.

That is how a facial recognition system operates, but on a much larger, computational scale. Recognition technology sees data where you see a face. That information can be saved and retrieved. According to a Georgetown University research, half of all American adults have their photos recorded in one or more facial-recognition databases that law enforcement authorities can check.

  • Step 1: System captures a photograph or video of your face. Your face might be seen solo or in a crowd. Your photo might show you gazing straight ahead or in profile.
  • Step 2: Facial Recognition System scans the geometry of your face. The distance between your eyes and the distance from your forehead to your chin are important considerations. The algorithm recognizes facial landmarks. One of a facial recognition system can recognize 68 of such key features that are important in differentiating your face. This creates your face signature.
  • Step 3: Your facial signature – mathematical formula , is compared to a database of recognized faces. at least 117 million Americans have photographs of their faces in one or more police databases. According to a May 2018 revelation, the FBI has access to 412 million face pictures for searches.
  • Step 4: The verification is successful when your faceprint may match an image in a facial recognition system database.

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Who Uses Facial Recognition System?

Many organizations and individuals use facial recognition features in a variety of situations. Here are a few examples:

  • Airports: In airports, facial recognition technologies can monitor persons entering and exiting. Department of Homeland Security uses this technology to identify persons who have overstayed their visas or are under criminal investigation. In August of 2018, customs officers at Washington Dulles International Airport made its first arrest using face recognition, arresting an imposter attempting to enter the country.
  • Mobile Phone Manufacturers: Apple was the first company to introduce facial recognition feature to unlock the iPhone X, and since then the technology has been carried over to the high end latest iPhone 14 to the mid range phones from Samsung, One Plus, Xiaomi, etc. Face ID authenticates and ensures that you are who you say you are when you access your phone. Apple claims the chance of a random person unlocking your phone via facial recognition is 1 in a million.
  • Schools and Colleges: Don’t even think of bunking your class, your professor may find out with the advance attendance system which uses latest facial recognition software to automate the attendance process. Don’t even consider sending your bright roommate to take your exam. :D. Schools in China and Japan are even using facial recognition features to check the attentiveness of the student in the class.
  • Social Media (Facebook): When you post a photo to Facebook, an algorithm detects the face from it. If you wish to tag others in your images, the social media firm will ask you. If you answer yes, a connection to their profiles is created. Face recognition on Facebook is 98 per cent accurate.
  • Retailers: Retailers may scan the faces of customers by combining security cameras with facial recognition. One goal is to identify suspected shoplifters.
  • Marketing and Ads: When targeting groups for a product or concept, marketers frequently consider factors such as gender, age, and ethnicity. With the help of facial recognition, such audiences can be determined even at a large crowded places like concerts.

Application Of Facial Recognition System In Law Enforcement

Today, facial recognition databases play an important role in law enforcement. According to an Electronic Frontier Foundation investigation, law enforcement agencies frequently collect mugshots from jailed people and compare them to local, state, and federal face recognition databases.

Law enforcement organisations can use these mugshot databases to identify persons in images collected from a number of sources, including closed-circuit television cameras, traffic cameras, social media, and photos taken by police officers themselves.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, police officers may also use their cellphones, tablets, or other mobile devices to take images of drivers or pedestrians and instantaneously match their photos to the faces in one or more facial recognition databases.

In addition, police enforcement can use face recognition to identify persons who may be wanted in connection with crimes at huge events such as concerts, sporting events, or the Olympics.

Several facial recognition systems are available to the federal authorities. Its primary database, however, is the FBI’s Next Generation Identification system. This collection comprises over 30 million face images.

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Facial Recognition System Pros And Cons


  • Finding missing people: Using face recognition technology, law enforcement organizations have been able to locate missing children, even if they have been gone for years.
  • Criminal identification: Law enforcement organizations may also employ face recognition to identify offenders or suspects in crimes.
  • Safer Flights: Airports across the world are employing face recognition to detect criminals and possible threats as they enter airports or attempt to board aircraft.
  • Efficient Shopping: Retailers may employ face recognition to make checkout easier for customers. Rather than asking customers to pay with cash or credit, shops may use face recognition to charge their purchases to their accounts instantly.


  • Threat to privacy: Do you want your face to be saved in a database that law enforcement can access? Do you want retailers to have a saved image of your face? You are not alone if you don’t. Many people are concerned that facial recognition would further erode personal privacy.
  • Can be tricked: Criminals can fool face recognition by wearing masks or facial disguises. This may reduce the efficacy of this technology.
  • Identity theft: Facial recognition isn’t flawless. What if a law enforcement agency misidentifies you as a criminal suspect when you’re entering your favourite baseball stadium?
  • Aging reduces its effectiveness: According to studies, as people age and their characteristics alter, face recognition becomes increasingly difficult to recognise them. According to other research, face recognition is less efficient in recognising persons of colour and women.

Why Should You Be Concerned About The Privacy Threat!

  • Security: Your face data might be captured and kept without your knowledge or consent. That data might be accessed and stolen by hackers.
  • Prevalence: The use of facial recognition technologies is becoming more common. As a result, your face characteristic might appear in a variety of places. You’ll probably have no idea who has access to it
  • Ownership: Your face — the one on top of your neck — is yours, but your digital photographs are not. When you joined a social media network, you may have given away your right to ownership. Or perhaps someone finds photographs of you online and sells the information.
  • Safety: Facial recognition technology has the potential to lead to internet abuse and stalking. How? For example, someone may photograph you in a subway or other public area and then use face recognition software to determine who you are.
  • Identity theft: Assume that law enforcement is using face recognition to try to identify someone who robbed a convenience store. Facial recognition technologies are not always accurate. What if the cops believe you are the suspect?
  • Freedom: Government agencies and others may be able to monitor you. What you do and where you go may no longer be considered private. It may become hard to stay anonymous in the future.


What is facial recognition?

Facial recognition system is a software-based method of recognizing a human face. A face recognition system maps facial characteristics from an image or video using biometrics.

How does facial recognition work?

In order to verify the subject, the facial recognition software matches it with the stored data of faces from the database. Facial recognition is an excellent feature when it comes to the biometric verification of a person's identification. but it also raises serious privacy concerns.

About the Author
Atul Harsha
Senior Manager Content

Experienced AI and Machine Learning content creator with a passion for using data to solve real-world challenges. I specialize in Python, SQL, NLP, and Data Visualization. My goal is to make data science engaging an... Read Full Bio