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Pioneer of facial recognition technology, Dr. Joseph J. Atick is now working against some of the technology's strongest advocates to develop policies that will preserve individuals' rights to remain anonymous. "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."
What's the Big Idea?
The largest private users of facial recognition technology, e.g. Google and Facebook, have made specific decisions about when and how they will use the capability. Google, for example, has banned apps allowing its Google Glass users to identify strangers on the street. Still, these companies have not volunteered to help establish fair-use guidelines that could set a wide industry standard. "Some people believe that I am maybe inhibiting the industry from growing. I disagree," said Dr. Atick "I am helping industry make difficult choices, but the right choices."