Facial recognition is not the enemy of privacy, claims OmniPerception

According to the US study – conducted by a trio of researchers with Carnegie Mellon University – after running a series of experiments, they concluded that facial recognition technology has reached the stage where its accuracy threatens the privacy of people going about their everyday business.

“People across the world have been approaching each other with their faces in full view for thousands of years. Civilisation has been built on the interactions and mutual trust of people who know and recognise each other and co-operate accordingly”, said Stewart Hefferman, OmniPerception's CEO.

“It’s not usually when we recognise people that we feel most vulnerable. It’s when we see balaclavas, hoodies or masks that we know we probably need to watch out. This modern obsession with face recognition as the enemy of privacy is a spurious and thoroughly unhelpful phenomenon”, he added.

The OmniPerception CEO went on to emphasise that face recognition technology itself does not undermine privacy, any more than people recognising each other in the street or at a party.

And he says he welcomes the researchers’ findings that modern face recognition technology is now much more accurate than the versions available a few years ago. He also agrees that, like many good and useful technologies in modern life, it could be open to abuse by people using it for unscrupulous purposes.

The research, however, he says is misleading in that it blames the technology for undermining privacy when really it should be focussing on how the technology is being used – and on the people who are using or abusing it.

“Properly used, [facial recognition] is absolutely non-threatening; and delivers huge benefits – improving safety and security in many areas of modern life. More secure identity management has an important part to play in fraud prevention, protection against identity theft and the defence of sensitive and vulnerable places and premises”, he explained.

Dr Hefferman said he was concerned that the American researchers are painting face recognition technology in an adverse light at a time when the industry is working hard delivering good effective products and investing in further development.

“We need to go on investing in the benefits of modern face recognition technology, if we are to bring it ever more effectively to bear in the global battle against terrorism, in fraud prevention and in protecting the safety and security of the public at large”, he noted.

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