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Entries in Privacy (110)

Friday
Sep122014

Report: Privacy Restrictions Hindering Growth of Facial Recognition Market

In the facial recognition versus privacy debate, there are few easy answers. One thing is for sure, though: Privacy restrictions are actively slowling the growth of the global facial recognition market, according to a new report from Research and Markets. However, the industry is still growing at an impressive rate.

The report find that the global facial recognition market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.5 percent through 2020, which is less than a 2013 report titled “Global Facial Recognition Market 2014-2018” forecast. In this previous report, Research and Markets projected that the global facial recognition market, driven by the government sector, would grow at a CAGR of 26.6 percent over the five years between 2013 and 2018. Part of this lag is due to privacy concerns and restrictions, as the public continues to explore their comfort level associated with facial recognition technology.

The global facial recognition market is valued at about $1.17 billion, with much of the revenue sharing belonging to 2D facial recognition solutions, which are popular in many applications, such as smartphone cameras. The report predicts that 3D facial recognition will show steady growth as the technology continues to improve in accuracy.

According to Research and Markets, future adoption of facial recognition in web applications will be primarily driven by a demand for the technology in such applications as picture tagging and social media. This is the type of everyday use that is likely to familiarize people with the technology, which will help lead to broader acceptance in the future.

Thursday
Aug142014

FBI Facial Recognition Catches Fugitive on the Run for 14 Years

For many people, the idea of the FBI’s extensive facial recognition database is a bit creepy. But rest assured that facial recognition in the hands of the government can certainly serve a purpose.

Case in point: Neil Stammer, a former Albuquerque resident wanted by the FBI on a charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, has been captured after 14 years on the run, thanks to a government facial recognition database. According to the FBI, Stammer had traveled extensively overseas and speaks a dozen languages. He had eluded capture for years by moving continuously. Ultimately, he was captured in Nepal just a few weeks ago and returned to New Mexico to face child sex abuse and kidnapping charges.

How did the arrest finally happen? An FBI agent was recently working his way through a stack of unsolved cases, when he came across Stammer’s file. On a whim, he had the FBI’s Office of Public affairs post a new “wanted” poster for Stammer on the agency’s website. He hoped that, even after all these years, it might lead to something.

Meanwhile, the Diplomatic Security Service, part of the U.S. Department of State, was testing new facial recognition software that will be used to detect passport fraud. An agent decided to try the software on FBI wanted posters, and was surprised when Stammer’s face matched a person whose passport photo had a different name entirely. The agent suspected passport fraud, and once he involved the FBI, realized Stammer’s crimes went much deeper than that.

Following Stammer's arrest, we can only hope that the various government agencies can collaborate in the future (intentionally, of course). With the wealth of knowledge availablel to the FBI and other agencies, facial recognition software promises to be a powerful detection and prosecution tool for governments around the world.

Wednesday
Apr232014

Retailers Turn to Facial Recognition to Cut Down on Shoplifting

Smile, shoppers. You're on candid camera equipped with facial recognition software.

Retail stores that are vulnerable to shoplifting criminal activity are about to get a new ally. FaceFirst, a facial recognition software system, recently partnered with a nationally renowned Fortune 500 company to deploy hundreds of cameras in store entrances across the nation in order to curb shoplifting incidences and other criminal activity in the retail market.

FaceFirst's national deployment is the retail industry's largest retail deployment of facial recognition, and the software company anticipates securing additional retailers in the future. The company claims its advanced facial recognition technology will boost customer loyalty by providing shoppers with a peace of mind knowing their shopping experience can be enjoyed without the threat of criminal activity.

The FaceFirst facial recognition system spots known perpetrators entering store locations so retailers can stop criminal activity before they cost the retailer money. The software allows retailers to receive descriptive alerts when pre-identified shoplifters walk through any door at any store across multiple locations and receive alerts when litigious individuals enter store locations.

FaceFirst is just the latest in a string of retail-oriented facial recognition applications. NEC just announced its NeoFace software, which recognizes returning customers and tracks their preferences to provide better customer service. Both FaceFirst and NeoFace are designed to be easily installed and fairly affordable, so retailers of all sizes can take advantage of the technology. As prices on this type of software continue to fall, shoppers should expect facial recognition to become increasingly popular in the retail world.

Tuesday
Apr152014

The FBI's Facial Recognition System Will Collect Data on Everyone -- Even Non-Criminals

Image credit: Electronic Frontier Foundation

Privacy fans, get ready to feel your blood pressure rise.

The FBI is planning to roll out an extensive new facial recognition system that includes a database of photos to identify Americans, regardless of criminal historyaccording to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The system, called Next Generation Identification, or NGI, could soon include facial rec information on as many as 100 million Americans. The FBI already maintains a database of about 100 million people’s fingerprints, as well as many retina scans and palm prints, and personal information like name, address, age and race.

According to Business Insider, the database will grow quickly. By 2015, the system will be able to query up to 52 million photos: 46 million criminal images, such as mugshots; 4.3 million "civil images" from other sources; and 215,000 photos from the Repository for Individuals of Special Concern.

NGI is already being used in several states, and many more will soon join in. According to privacy advocates like the EFF, the FBI is clearly overreaching the bounds of privacy.

According to the EFF:

[T]he FBI only ensures that “the candidate will be returned in the top 50 candidates” 85 percent of the time “when the true candidate exists in the gallery.”

It is unclear what happens when the “true candidate” does not exist in the gallery—does NGI still return possible matches? Could those people then be subject to criminal investigation for no other reason than that a computer thought their face was mathematically similar to a suspect’s? This doesn’t seem to matter much to the FBI—the Bureau notes that because “this is an investigative search and caveats will be prevalent on the return detailing that the [non-FBI] agency is responsible for determining the identity of the subject, there should be NO legal issues.”

We're interested to learn how the facial rec portion of NGI will work in reality. In the meantime, how do you feel about the FBI collecting and querying your facial recognition data? In today's age of dwindling privacy, does news like this still get under your skin?

Tuesday
Aug272013

A Drone for Everyone?

These days, drones seem to be everywhere, delivering all kinds of things (like pizzas, beer, or bombs). But no one has manufactured a GPS-guided UAV that the average consumer would want to operate (and could afford to purchase). That is, until now.

3D Robotics is hoping their new drone will be simple enough for mass consumption, especially since it supports easy-to-use GPS controls through any computer, tablet or smartphone.

3D Robotics' 3DR Iris UAV costs just $729 and includes everything you need to actually utlize it: a trasmitter, battery pack, extra propellers and legs, and, of course, the unit itself. Not a bad price for a fully-functioning, ready-to-fly autonomous aerial vehicle. According to the company, the drone enables "point-and-click mission planning" using more than 100 configurable waypoints. These guide the device from take-off to landing, using a web-enabled device. It can even be easily outfitted with an on-board camera for your most important surveillance missions.

Of course, we wonder what "missions" the average consumer will get up to with a $700 drone in their hands. And yet, at the same time, we really don't want to know.