Facial recognition has many fans but just as many enemies, and we can understand both sides. This technology is great as it allows us to remain more protected, eases some daily processes, and in general simplifies our lives a bit. But ironically, while it can protect us from certain threats, it exposes us to another threat — the possibility that our privacy will be harmed.

You can’t protect yourself with usual measures such as a VPN from such a threat this technology might bring. iNinja will keep your devices anonymous and hidden from the grid. But face recognition extends beyond our computers and smartphones. So let’s see how you can protect your privacy.

What’s the difference between facial recognition and facial authentication?

It’s important to distinguish these technologies to understand when your privacy might be jeopardized, and how the law can protect you.

Facial recognition is used to, obviously, recognize faces. Initially, it’s used for government surveillance to spot known criminals or to recognize those who convicted a crime. Therefore, this technology is used, for example, in airports or other public places where some extra cautiousness is required. People who visit this public place don’t consent directly to being surveilled — that’s the first issue with facial recognition.

However, we can let that one slide because the government uses this technology for our safety — we hope so, of course. There are other problems related to facial recognition that are more serious. The thing is that facial recognition doesn’t work by itself — it uses a database to find people. This database is rather vast and meticulous. One can find different services and apps that will recognize the person if you provide the system their photo. Some of such services are capable of holding a whole background check fetching you quite private details about that person. That’s clearly something that violates our privacy.

Facial authentication is used to allow an individual to go through the identification process. Such an individual has to agree to this process to be performed to them. Therefore, in theory, facial authentication is more safe — simply because we consent to using it. Although some people are still quite skeptical about it, and we understand the concern. If you go through the facial authentication, you’ll likely get a profile in a database we’ve been talking about in the previous paragraph. Then your privacy might be not so safe.

That’s why we advise you to avoid using facial authentication when it’s possible. Older authentication methods might be a bit less convenient, but it’s better to protect yourself when you can do that.

What are the uses of facial recognition?

As this technology is applied by authorities to protect lawful citizens from criminals, there are quite many uses:
● Airport security — Face recognition allows customs officials to detect known criminals or those who have an expired visa. And there already are cases of authorities catching malefactors thanks to this technology even though it’s used only for a couple of years now. Also, airports use facial authentication to identify passengers as they board.
● Schools and other educational institutions — In this case, face recognition can be used both for protecting students from threats and detecting faces to see if someone decided to send their friend to pass the test.
● Mobile devices — Some manufacturers allow their users to unlock gadgets using facial authentication.
● Social media platforms — Facebook, for example, can recognize your friends on photos you upload and offer you to tag them.
● Everyday security — Shopping malls, business centers, and other public places can use facial recognition to spot suspicious people and known criminals.
● Advertisers and marketers — Processing the data gathered thanks to facial recognition it’s easy to determine the target audience by gender, age, and other criteria.

Risks facial recognition might bring

Now let’s see in detail to which threats you might be exposed because of facial recognition.
● Privacy violation — You don’t know if the data about you collected with this technology was saved and stored without you knowing that.
● Access issues — Just like any other database, the one that contains information about identities is vulnerable to hackers.
● Mistakes — Even though robots don’t make mistakes usually, you might become a victim of a situation when you’re taken for some criminal who looks very similar to you.
● Basic freedom — While governments try to protect our privacy online, they harm it with facial recognition because you never know if you’re being watched.

How to stay safe?

Well, it’s tricky. The first thing you can do is to avoid using facial authentication when you can. It won’t take much more time to unlock your phone with some other method, for example. Also, you can opt-out of Facebook’s facial recognition system. And you should check other apps you’re using to find out whether they have facial recognition implemented or not. We advise you to check your IoT gadgets as well to see if they’re using this technology.

Additionally, avoid sharing too many photos online that could help malefactors to identify you. But that’s basic advice that works well not only for facial recognition. And finally, you can use iNinja VPN to remain anonymous online. While it won’t really safeguard you from facial recognition, it will help you add another layer of protection to your privacy.

There already are some curious accessories that you can wear on your face to fool facial recognition systems. Such items were created to protect your privacy as you walk through public places that might use this technology to identify visitors. Usually, these accessories cover the nose and some other parts of the face as facial recognition systems tend to focus on human noses because most faces have this element.

Special accessories and clothes become very popular in China where the government uses facial recognition widely. Perhaps, we should follow the example of Chinese citizens and begin thinking of how we can protect our identity and faces from getting detected.