Complete Guide to Understanding Facial Biometrics: Should You Be Scared?

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If you unlocked an iPhone with FaceID, you used facial biometric technology. So why does this phrase make people so uncomfortable? You have science fiction movies like Minority report Were we scared of being bombarded with targeted ads as we walked down the street? Or are we afraid that facial recognition could be used for “pre-crime” identification or an alternative form of big brother government surveillance? Probably not.

As a new technology, facial biometrics raises logical concerns about how they can be used and how they can affect the privacy of the average person. These concerns are valid, but they are often due to misunderstandings about how biometrics work and the specific applications where they play a role.

Biometrics is the measurement and statistical analysis of a person’s physical and even behavioral characteristics. The term refers to ways of verifying a person’s identity based on who they are they are, instead of what they have (i.e. a card) and what they know (i.e. historical data based on a person’s name or Social Security number, or by entering a passphrase or password ). Biometric authentication verifies your identity based on something unique about you.

The first step in keeping your identity secure and your privacy intact is to understand the different forms of facial recognition and biometrics, which are detailed below.

Related: The importance of having accurate facial recognition

Facial biometrics: recognition vs. authentication

Facial biometrics is a broad term that encompasses both facial recognition and facial authentication. Facial biometrics refers to face authentication modes based on your face. For example, your iPhone is unlocked only when your face is shown. In other applications, your on-site selfie is linked to a copy of your government ID that you previously uploaded to access your bank account or previously authenticated selfie images.

As technology advances, the day comes when your face not only unlocks your device, but also verifies your identity quickly and efficiently even for the most sensitive online transactions. Two types of facial biometrics are currently used:

  • Facial recognition it is based on a “one to many” match. This form of biometric technology has several law enforcement applications; police, for example, implement facial recognition when looking for a partner for a possible witness or suspect among a crowd of people or a sea of ​​photos online. Facial recognition often raises privacy issues, perhaps out of fear of large databases of individuals’ faces or authoritarian efforts to create “social credit score.” That’s why understanding this technology is crucial to relieving fears.

  • Facial authentication it’s very different from recognition: it’s a one-to-one matching technology. Facial authentication matches a person’s face with a previously verified image from a trusted source, such as a government-issued identity document or a previously registered and authenticated biometric selfie. Think of your face unlocking your phone several times a day or your face giving access to your online bank account to confirm your identity or confirm a purchase or account change.

Related: The technology that consumers can use to combat fraud

Uses and victories of facial biometrics

This new technology has already had a number of exciting successes in a growing number of use cases. For example, many law enforcement agencies have captured a variety of bad actors through facial recognition through video surveillance as well as identifying missing persons. In Europe, the widespread use of CCTV systems has led to greater adoption and debate about the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement across the continent. In both Europe and the United States, the extent to which facial recognition has facilitated the resolution of trafficking, counterterrorism and other crimes has provided solid evidence that this technology is a key public safety tool.

In addition, facial authentication has proven its exciting potential to provide a solid proof of identity for businesses that customers will find easy to use. Facial authentication can make online transactions completely secure, making it a key tool in mitigating the ever-increasing business costs associated with identity theft or fraud.

Facial biometrics can also be a huge asset in the subscription. It is a simplified and highly accurate way to evaluate and verify claims, as well as create a more secure initial subscription transaction. Companies can check that someone is the one who claims to be the one with the only face of a person: no fingerprints, voice or other necessary means. The rise in friendly fraud amplifies the importance of subscription. In friendly fraud, customers who are not career criminals exploit companies alleging that they have not made purchases, account changes, and so on. An example of this is the misuse of chargebacks. The use of biometric authentication at the time of purchase is a great defense against this growing fraud.

Other advances in facial biometrics also help prevent counterfeiting when capturing the selfie image, such as liveliness detection. Today, most modern facial authentication systems can detect whether an image is real or false at the capture point. This technology, when properly applied, can prevent a bad actor from using a photo, a face mask, or even a deep fake video to authenticate sensitive information, such as a bank account. Anti-spoofing technology can provide safe and accurate life detection with 3D or 2D cameras.

Biometrics is an advantage for customers and businesses, who now have a powerful tool to prevent fraud and ensure that users have a streamlined and secure online experience while eliminating the need to remember dozens of passwords.

Related: How Biometric Solutions Are Configuring Workplace Security

Fears and realities of your face

Despite successes and use cases, fears remain. Like it or not, our selfies, and therefore our faces, are everywhere in an increasingly digital world. Your face, with all its complexity and uniqueness, is also your most valuable password. While it can be an incredibly powerful tool for fraud prevention, you should be aware of the real dangers it poses when misused or poorly constructed.

First, not all facial biometric technology is developed properly or effectively. For example, bias can be a problem. According to NIST, false rejection rates of current algorithms when certain groups are verified based on race, age, and sex may hinder their accuracy or cause fears that the technology may be misused for groups. marginalized. Bias in facial biometrics could erode and possibly destroy a company’s results as well as its credibility. However, recent advances in facial recognition technology have led to constant improvements. For example, the best algorithms arrived at the correct answer more than 99% of the time, with most of the error remaining due to aging or injuries between image captures.

In addition, privacy is another constant concern. While technological advances have significantly reduced the risk of false positives and increased the accuracy of technology, privacy concerns have led several U.S. cities such as Portland and Baltimore to pass laws banning most public uses. private facial recognition technology. These bans were intended to alleviate fears of mass surveillance by stopping the intensive use of facial recognition. But the best way to strike a balance between civilian and police concerns will certainly be an ongoing discussion.

Related: 5 basics to protect your identity and privacy

Be informed, don’t be scared

Fortunately, the average person has many tools at their disposal to protect their data and privacy. First, read the fine print. Pay more attention to what companies want to do with your data once they capture it; Sometimes small print clauses, once you sign out, give them permission to use your data for marketing.

In addition, you can use a digital identity card to protect your data instead of entrusting it to third parties. This is an easy and secure way to make sure you’ve identified a clear choice of what data to share or not with a company or person.

With proper safeguards and use, facial biometrics is a key tool for identity authentication in many use cases. It is important to note that companies should be wary of the technology they choose for facial biometrics: not all technologies have the same level of non-bias and do not offer the same guarantees for counterfeiting.

Recognizing people by their faces is one of the oldest ways people identify. Emerging facial biometric technologies allow us to embrace the digital revolution while taking advantage of this traditional practice of social trust. Technological advances make accuracy better and fraud less and less. While both the general public and businesses need to consider a variety of protections and good practices to keep information and privacy secure, facial biometrics has the power to enhance the user experience, security of the customer and business operations at the same time.

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