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A loss of anonymity?

A truly frightening prospect.....losing our anonymity?http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/18/technology/never-forgetting-a-face.html?ref=technology

"A physicist, Dr. Atick is one of the pioneer entrepreneurs of modern face recognition. Having helped advance the fundamental face-matching technology in the 1990s, he went into business and promoted the systems to government agencies looking to identify criminals or prevent identity fraud. “We saved lives,” he said during the conference in mid-March. “We have solved crimes.”"

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"Now an industry consultant, Dr. Atick finds himself in a delicate position. While promoting and profiting from an industry that he helped foster, he also feels compelled to caution against its unfettered proliferation. He isn’t so much concerned about government agencies that use face recognition openly for specific purposes — for example, the many state motor vehicle departments that scan drivers’ faces as a way to prevent license duplications and fraud. Rather, what troubles him is the potential exploitation of face recognition to identify ordinary and unwitting citizens as they go about their lives in public. Online, we are all tracked. But to Dr. Atick, the street remains a haven, and he frets that he may have abetted a technology that could upend the social order.

Face-matching today could enable mass surveillance, “basically robbing everyone of their anonymity,” he says, and inhibit people’s normal behavior outside their homes. Pointing to the intelligence documents made public by Edward J. Snowden, he adds that once companies amass consumers’ facial data, government agencies might obtain access to it, too.

To many in the biometrics industry, Dr. Atick’s warning seems Cassandra-like. Face recognition to them is no different from a car, a neutral technology whose advantages far outweigh the risks. The conveniences of biometrics seem self-evident: Your unique code automatically accompanies you everywhere. They envision a world where, instead of having to rely on losable ID cards or on a jumble of easily forgettable — not to mention hackable — passwords, you could unlock your smartphone or gain entry to banks, apartment complexes, parking garages and health clubs just by showing your face."

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