Facial recognition is a technology that can recognize and verify an individual from a digital image or a video frame. Facial Recognition system identifies your face based on skin tone, facial hair, and other biometric information. It then compares the data to a database of stored faces and finds a match.
Use of Facial Recognition in Law Enforcement
Law Enforcement agencies all around the world have been using the latest technologies that help track down criminals. The latest in this long list of technologies is the Facial Recognition System.
Of course, there are other methods to distinguish individuals from each other and identify them, such as:
- iris scans,
- voice recognition,
- palm vein digitization,
- cognitive measurements.
But facial recognition continues to be the perfect biometric benchmark. And the reason for this is that it is easy to deploy, and there is no need for physical interaction by the end-user. Tracking down criminals using facial recognition is faster and more efficient.
Facial Recognition System in Japan
Japanese Police Force has also joined the long list of law enforcement agencies around the globe that use facial recognition. A system can compare photographs of people previously arrested with images obtained from surveillance cameras and social media.
Police have used facial recognition technology across the nation since March. It’s a more efficient and reliable way to locate criminal suspects. Critics warn that the system could transform the country into a surveillance society unless it runs under strict regulations.
According to a senior National Police Agency official, that shouldn’t be a problem: “We are using the system only for criminal investigations and within the scope of the law. We discard facial images that are found to be unrelated to cases.”
The Japanese National Police Agency also follows strict rules laid down by the National Public Safety Commission to handle and use facial images, the same way they do fingerprints and DNA evidence.
The agency’s database currently holds 10 million facial images of criminal suspects. Some of those have not yet been arrested.
Implications of Facial Recognition on Privacy
The implications of facial recognition are far-reaching. It can help law enforcement agencies track down criminal suspects. But governments can use the same technology to monitor and control their citizens, like China’s government does to Uighur Muslims. More than a million of them are in detention camps, and the Chinese government uses surveillance technologies like facial recognition to control and discipline them.
In 2013 American coder Edward Snowden made key revelations about how the National Security Agency was breaching the general public’s privacy in the name of security and surveillance. Snowden’s revelations raised huge concerns about public privacy, and a huge overload of privacy advocacy was seen. It was now clear that governments can go to any lengths to control and discipline their citizens.
Concerns about the possible breaches of privacy, facial recognition being one of them, are present among the Japanese masses. The only way governments can use facial recognition to track down criminals is by monitoring everyone. That is the biggest issue that privacy advocates have against facial recognition.
Many government agencies could even access the webcams of internet users in the name of public safety and surveillance. And most of the time, users are not even aware of such an intense breach in their privacy. That’s why many start covering their webcams, muting their microphones, and using various privacy tools, such as a VPN or Tor browser.
Other Services that Pose a Threat To Privacy
Privacy in the age of the web is one of the most common issues that we face today. Almost everyone can track you or keep tabs on your personal information.
Internet users may fall victim to a data breach and lose their sensitive data. Or worse — their data might end up in malicious hands. If you are anonymous online, then your chances of falling victim to a data breach are almost zero. But it’s virtually impossible to stay truly anonymous.
Location-based services are on the rise as almost everyone uses a smartphone these days. These services access your location and provide you information about nearby places such as the nearest restaurant, information about indoor positioning, speed, altitude, etc. But the privacy concern about this location-sharing is that these services may be collecting more data on the users than they need to.
Going online may feel like the equivalent of having zero privacy. Almost 40% of internet users worldwide feel that they don’t have control over their data. Advertisement agencies and social media sites collaborate to bring you better ads but only at the cost of your privacy. Your personal data is handed over to these third-party sites all the time.
Protecting Your Privacy
The Japanese government and marketplaces gather data about people to use it according to their needs. Nobuo Komiya, a criminology professor at Rissho University, said, “It is natural for the police to adopt advanced technology.”
Nowadays, many governments are more concerned about their control over citizens and less about their privacy. They often overlook data breaches in the name of security. So everyone should take their privacy into their own hands.