All Eyes on Consequences of Facial Recognition Technology

  • January 21, 2019
  • Mark Hayes and Adam Jacobs

Facial recognition has quickly developed from a crude platform to a sophisticated technology with a wide range of uses in the private sector. Individuals can now unlock their phone and pay for products with their face. Similar algorithms allow for your face to act as a ticket to an event and have been tested to spot shoplifters.

Generally speaking, facial recognition systems have four components: (1) a camera to capture an image, (2) an algorithm to create a faceprint (sometimes called a facial template), (3) a database of stored images, and (4) an algorithm to compare the captured image to the database of images or a single image in the database. Sometimes the algorithm is used to classify the face into categories such as gender or age, while at other times it can be used for verification or identification purposes.

As the cost of adopting facial recognition platforms continues to drop, private sector organizations have sought to utilize such technology to gather information on their customers. The issue, however, is that organizations are often quick to roll out facial recognition technology without ensuring that such use is compliant with Canadian private sector privacy laws or conducting a privacy impact assessment on its use.