Facial Recognition: Why it is Still a Controversial Technology

Facial Recognition: Why it is Still a Controversial Technology

It is one of the technological innovations that have attracted heated debates from various stakeholders. On one end, the technology has enhanced tasks such as access control through quick identity verification and authentication. On the other end, there are safety and privacy issues being raised from the facial biometrics that continue to be held up in different databases all over the world.

Granted, this technology can provide users with greater convenience when used appropriately. However, the dangers raised by its wide use cannot be overlooked. So what are the risks and why should you be concerned?

Here are 5 issues around facial recognition technology


The continuous use of this technology exposes our privacy leaving it vulnerable. As it is, many countries across the world do not have clear regulations surrounding the privacy policies put in place by businesses and organizations using facial recognition technology. Many a time, you are monitored without even knowing it.

Without clear policies, we are never certain that the information collected by the surveillance cameras or scanners will be used for the intended purposes only. This raises a privacy concern should the face recognition database be accessed by unethical personnel.

The fear of privacy intrusion cuts across globally. For instance, in a bid to protect their privacy, legislators in the US have passed laws that strengthen the battle against facial recognition technology. The legislators have succeeded in scaling down the use of the technology in some towns while banning it altogether in others.

Data security

The fear of having biometric details stolen is also a concern around facial recognition technology. If hackers happen to successfully steal biometric data, they can alter all settings including removing or changing access face prints. This can give them unauthorized access and can end up causing huge losses to businesses and enterprises.

Lack of a clearly outlined oversight

As already mentioned, many countries have no legislation governing the use of facial recognition technology. Many have no legal authority put in place to ensure that the results of a match are not biased or that mismatches do not happen.

Unfortunately, many developers of these systems do not put the public interest in place and for as long there is no oversight, the continued use of this technology remains a concern for many.

Facial recognition for law enforcement

Investigation bureaus have resorted to stocking millions of images for facial recognition purposes. In a bid to make their convictions, surveillance cameras have been installed in selected points to aid in facial scans.

This subjects the public to constant surveillance; which has seen members of the society in some countries subjected to punishment for petty crimes; something that has caused controversy with many debaters arguing that the technology steps on basic human rights.

Mistaken identity

Although it still remains one of the best innovations of our times, facial recognition is still in its developing stages. There is a concern around its accuracy in identifying and matching the faces of some minority groups.

There is, in particular, a concern about the tried cases where the technology misidentifies people of colour, women and the elderly.


Whether it is intended to be used as access control or security solution, facial recognition technology should be used judiciously. As it is right now, legislators have a role to play in ensuring that the technology does not violate the basic rights of harmless members of the society.