I noted with concern last week’s article on the advent of facial recognition technology in U.S. airports. The article describes a “biometric facial recognitions system” that compares passengers to “existing traveler photographs from government databases.” The Hoya cites officials who say the program will be “passenger-friendly” and improve “efficiency and security.”
While it is very important that we protect the public from those with ill intent, this new facial recognition technology raises some serious privacy concerns.
Beyond the dangers from misidentifications and other errors in the technology, we need to ask ourselves whether we are comfortable with a society in which more and more parts of our daily lives are being watched and tracked. Whether it is Google, your internet service provider, the government or other private companies, there is always the potential for so much personal data to be misused. We have seen recently how institutional safeguards that we imagine to be permanent can be undermined, so we should take care before we too readily move forward with these types of technology. While a Minority Report-style future isn’t inevitable, this is a concerning first step.
Hunter Congdon is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service.