A similar access policy will no doubt be in place once the London Underground’s facial recognition system is up and running.
Chinese companies are developing facial recognition technology that can not only identify people but may one day be able to predict crimes. A Singaporean company, Xjera Labs, has built surveillance technology that can identify vehicles as well as people. It also allows users to search CCTV footage for particular activity, such as a street fight. Xjera Labs’ technology is used by police in Singapore as well as Chinese schools. This may strike some as creepy and intrusive, but many people see benefits. Chinese researchers have built ATMs that use facial recognition to determine identity. Thanks to facial recognition, one cafe owned by the Chinese e‐commerce company Alibaba does not need self‐checkout kiosks, let alone human check‐out assistance.
These innovations from the United Kingdom and China or others like them will find their way to the United States, where around half of adults are already part of a facial recognition network.
Shorter lines, no ticket turnstiles, and stores without checkouts sound great, but they come at a significant cost when they rely on facial recognition.
The increased use of facial recognition will enable law enforcement to more easily track your lawful movements. When merged with CCTV, body camera, and drone technology facial recognition will allow law enforcement to identify law abiding citizens. The widespread use of facial recognition will open the door for increased tracking and surveillance as well as the stifling of First Amendment‐protected activities.
We shouldn’t think of facial recognition as a necessarily nefarious technology. It would be great to live in a world where there are fewer airport and shopping lines and our privacy is protected. And we could, provided that lawmakers take steps to limit the facial recognition data government collect and citizens don’t hurry to sacrifice their privacy for convenience.