There has been increasing press coverage pertaining to developments of anti-surveillance clothing and paraphernalia to counter the effectiveness of face recognition, such as this recent article in the Guardian: Anti-surveillance clothing aims to hide wearers from facial recognition.
The real issue with regards to the continuous development of anti-surveillance paraphernalia and the ability of technology suppliers to circumvent it is not an issue of technology, but rather a social one. Advocates and opponents will continuously be leap-frogging each other with their ability to detect and to counter.
What we should be focusing on is understanding the reason for dissent and working together as a society to develop an ethical and moral code of conduct. Innocent people rightly have an expectation of privacy and do not want to be followed, tracked or traced. We’re often asked “Why do you care what I’m doing? Or where I’m going? Or what I’m doing?” And the answer, simply, is “We don’t.”
At Allevate, together with our partners Facewatch, our goal, our self-directed mandate, is to improve and better society. To create safe places for people to gather, to minimise the threat of crime and attack and to aid the authorities in identifying and apprehending those that seek to do the opposite.
However, like many technologies, there is the potential for face recognition technology to serve multiple purposes. In our experience, society does not object to safe-guarding our children, reducing crime and the threat of terrorist attack and making our world a safer place. The objections arise when it is the law-abiding citizen being identified for the commercial gain of somebody else, without their consent.
Yes, we will continue to develop mechanisms to ensure we accurately identify people, but the real solution is dialogue. Open and honest. If all non-security applications of such technology are transparent and driven by opt-in and consent, then perhaps the only people that will be trying to reduce its effectiveness are the criminals, which will only serve to make them stand out even more.
You can read more on Allevate’s views on this subject in this whitepaper: Face Recognition: Profit, Ethics and Privacy.