Expert Feature - Face Recognition in Retail: Profit, Ethics and Privacy
05 February 2013 14:29 GMT

Facial recongition - friend or foe for the consumer?

The accuracy of face recognition has increased dramatically. Though biometric technologies have typically been deployed by governments and law enforcement agencies to ensure public, transport and border safety, this improvement in accuracy has not gone unnoticed by retailers and other commercial organisations.

Niche biometric companies are being snapped up by internet and social media behemoths to further their commercial interests, and retailers and other enterprises are experimenting with the technology to categorise customers, analyse trends and identify VIPs and repeat spenders.

Whilst the benefits to business are clear and seductively tantalising, it has been impossible to ignore the increasing murmurs of discontent amongst the wider population. Concerns over intrusion of privacy and the constant monitoring of our daily lives threaten to tarnish the reputation of an industry which has endeavoured to deliver significant benefit to society through improved public safety.

Can the industry be relied upon to self-regulate? Will commercial enterprise go too far in their quest to maximise profits? How far is too far? How can organisations ethically make use of face recognition technology to increase efficiencies and drive revenue, whilst respecting and preserving privacy and maintaining the trust of their clientele and society?

Planet Biometrics Expert Carl Gohringer reports.

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