In today’s digital world, privacy is something that is getting harder and harder to protect. But what if simply scanning your face provides enough information to track you and learn your habits?

What is facial recognition? It is a biometric method of identifying an individual by comparing a digital image data with the stored record for that person. And it is creeping more and more into our daily lives. Facebook and Google use it for auto-tagging photos. Snapchat uses it to create hilarious filters. And Apple’s new iPhone will allow you to use your face to unlock your phone. But this same technology can be used by governments and companies to learn as much as they can about you.

Governments and law enforcement are using facial recognition right now. In the US, there are an estimated 60 million surveillance cameras, meaning there’s a pretty good chance that our faces are being digitally captured every day. In US airports, facial scans are checked against photos stored in police databases. In fact, if you’re an adult in the US, there is a 50/50 chance that your photo is stored in a police database, even if you’ve never been arrested or charged with a crime.

Facial recognition is also about making money. When you and your friends are auto-tagged when you upload a photo to Google or Facebook, that’s one more data point that companies can use to track what you do online, what you like, and what you buy. Companies are willing to pay BIG money for this info.


Facial recognition is increasingly common, but how does it work?
Facial Recognition May Boost Airport Security But Raises Privacy Worries
Half of All American Adults are in a Police Face Recognition Database
China Shames Jaywalkers Through Facial Recognition
Moscow Deploys Facial Recognition to Spy on Citizens in Streets
Disguised Face Identification (DFI) with Facial KeyPoints using Spatial Fusion Convolutional Network
Facebook and Google predicted to make $106 billion from advertising
Walmart’s Facial Recognition Tech Would Overstep Boundaries
Facial Recognition Technology Is Big Business — And It’s Coming For You

Is Facial Recognition Invading Your Privacy? 28 February,2018Derek Lartaud


Derek Lartaud

Derek Lartaud came to the Bay Area after nearly five years of researching schizophrenia and diabetes at Yale University. Determined to tell visual stories, he’s worked for the BBC, Al Jazeera America, TIME, PBS, and the Center for Investigative Reporting. He has a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience and a master’s degree in journalism. When not holding a camera or editing a story, he’s trying to rebuild his 1969 Honda CL350.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor