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Is Face Recognition an Immoral Technology?

Despite its unprecedented benefits, we still have to be wary about face ID's threats to our privacy!

By Becka MaisuradzePublished 5 years ago 4 min read
Top Story - October 2019

It’s a crazy world we live in. We’re able to literally reach the stars, communicate from one end of the world to the other, and even create self-evolving machines. Technological advancement doesn’t seem to exhaust itself.

One of the most prominent aspects of the modern technological era is AI. Artificial Intelligence has proven useful when it comes to our health, leisure, and work. With machines that can learn for themselves and take over most of our work, we’re able to dedicate our time to more valuable things, like family and friends.

With AI continuously evolving, it’s bringing new possibilities along the way, one of which is face recognition. We all know the Face ID used in Apple iPhones that make it so easy to unlock our phones, as well as execute financial operations and other tasks.

But even in light of such conveniences, there are some major concerns associated with this technology. Many skeptics are convinced that face recognition can, and will, be used by governments and criminal entities to compromise people’s private credentials.

In this article, we’ll take a look at what these uses are and how face recognition technology can undermine our privacy. Every chapter will contain both positive and negative uses of the face ID regarding the issue.


Crime detection is one of the most prominent uses of face recognition. With more than 60 million surveillance cameras just in the US, which record billions of hours in a single week, the face recognition technology can come in handy for catching criminals.

With this technology, hours of video data can be cross-referenced with criminal activity. Using this method, there will be no need for a manual search using static low-res images.

However, such convenience comes with a risk of abuse. One such risk is expanded surveillance over the population. Face recognition and its capabilities for crime prevention can be used by the officials to increase surveillance to a certain location. This can be perceived as a "big brother" effect by many individuals.

Another issue is the accuracy of the technology. There have been multiple records where the system was able to detect white males with criminal activities, while other races and sexes were naturally discriminated. This can cause a huge error when detecting criminals.

Missing people

The combination of the surveillance cameras and the face recognition technology can also prove useful for finding missing people. When it comes to those people, there’s a small margin of the time window when the chances of finding them are realistic.

With face recognition, every camera record in the area can be monitored using AI to track the last movements of the person missing. This way, the time lost will be significantly minimized.

Another way of finding those people is through a newly-presented facial recognition technology from Facebook. The company unveiled its own face ID in 2018, and it is able to identify people in photos automatically, no matter if they’re completely strangers or not.

However, the latter option has its own shortcomings. Unethical breach of personal privacy is certainly one of them. Facebook’s AI can detect you in a completely random picture and then tag you on it, which then makes it visible for every friend of yours. You might not want to reveal that one time when you were in the club or hanging out with friends, instead of doing something else.

Such intervention in your private life makes you ever-more accessible to the system and to your social circle, even if you’re trying to stay under the shade.


One of the most popular ways of face recognition and machine learning is in advertising. With tracking your shopping or browsing behaviors, the system is learning your preferences and is simultaneously offering you tailored deals. This way, you won’t need to spend too much time finding what you want.

However, by tracking your records and monitoring your browsing history, the system is storing huge volumes of personal data in the database. When it comes to a tailored experience, this can be convenient, but, the information saved forever (or at least, for a long time) is certainly breaching customers’ privacy.

This data can later be used by other agencies or even misused by the same agency, without the knowledge of the user. It’s unethical, to say the least.

Validation of purchases

Paying with your bare face is yet another convenience of face recognition. Imagine not having to bring your credit/debit cards to the shop ever again. You can step to the counter, look at the camera, and the system will automatically register the payment using an online database.

While this is an option waiting for further development, it still is a nice shopping alternative. However, it also has its drawbacks.

There have been many cases of identity fraud in recent times. And with further digitizing our financial credentials, the fraud possibilities get even more realistic.

What if the system mistakenly accesses your bank account using someone else’s face who might look like you? Or, what if your identical twin turns into an evil hacker who wants your money more than anything? It might sound a bit unrealistic, but it can nonetheless be true.

Double-faceted sword

Artificial Intelligence has brought many benefits to our lives. The future prospects are even brighter.

With AI-based facial recognition technology, we have been able to improve our crime-detection practice, as well as finding missing people, advertising, and payment methods.

On the other hand, this technology can deeply compromise our privacy and make our personal credentials ever-more exposed to the world.

Overall, there’s no way back now. We’ve already absorbed the AI capabilities and it’s only going to move forward—not backward. With such high technological development, we have to find a perfect spot between progress and our privacy.

artificial intelligence

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    Becka MaisuradzeWritten by Becka Maisuradze

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