(NBC News) – Facial recognition is increasingly being used in airports, advertising and even schools.
It’s the same technology that lets users unlock iPhones and share on social media.
“On Facebook, the company says they use facial recognition to help tag photos and for some security features,” notes Thomas Germain of Consumer reports.
But there are other potential uses of that data for the millions of Facebook users opted-in by default.
“There’s a patent to identify shoppers in stores and link them to social media accounts,” Germain says.
Facebook says it’s not doing that yet and that users can opt out of facial recognition features in their privacy settings.
That’s not an option for law enforcement facial recognition programs. The FBI says its use of this technology is a vital tool for identifying, apprehending and prosecuting terrorists and criminals.
At a recent House hearing, lawmakers were stunned to learn the FBI has a facial recognition database of 640 million photos, almost double the United States population, and that database includes drivers license directories from 21 states.
Privacy and civil liberties groups are intensifying calls for a ban on the use of facial recognition. Advocates argue there is little transparency about what data is collected and how it’s being used.
Advocates are also concerned about hacking because facial features cannot be changed like a password.