The Pros and Cons of Biometric Facial Recognition

Dec 3rd 2019 at 3:45 AM

The accuracy of facial recognition technology is improving as technology advances. Failure rates have gone down in recent years, with algorithms getting better at measuring facial biometrics and identifying faces.


However, the vast range of applications of the technology automatically leads to high risk levels. Currently, its being employed across retail, migration, security, travel, healthcare and law enforcement agencies, broadening both its use and acceptance.


Large databases containing scores of data points for millions of people are an indication of a looming threat for privacy and safety.



This is especially true for facial screening in industries like law enforcement, where incorrect identifications can have grave consequences. Therefore, critics say there must be clear instructions for its application, including legal frameworks that weigh costs and benefits in depth.


At the same time, it is also true that companies deem face identification online biometrics as a more reliable technology in comparison with other verification methods.


For instance, establishing the online identity of new customers and authenticating existing users is made easier with live detection features of facial recognition.

Let’s take a look at both sides of the argument.


Why Face Recognition Authentication Solutions Must Be Regulated

The use of facial biometrics for the purpose of verification and authentication is relatively new. This novelty hints at a lack of available research and experience to point out best practices, leaving adequate room for misuse.


The foremost factor to be considered for scrutiny of the technology is the purpose for which it is being used. In this respect, it’s important to comprehend differences between verification and identification.


While authentication and verification features of facial recognition may still be more acceptable, the core concept behind identification intercepts basic rules of privacy and fundamental rights.


In addition to this, the technology is still not 100% accurate. The margin of error, albeit small, is present in all verifications, due to which complete reliance on the results without any human intervention must not be proposed. Based on probabilities and estimations, the use of facial recognition in law enforcement becomes highly risky.


Public procurement of the technology should be subject to individual rights and privacy protocols. Data protection and management procedures need to be clearly spelled out and built into technical contracts.


Two Factor Authentication vs Facial Recognition

Facial identification may pose a number of apparent risks to safety and privacy. But it is, by far, more secure than other authentication methods such as two-factor authentication (2FA) or knowledge-based authentication.


This is due to a rising percentage of man-in-the-middle and phishing attacks that reduce the reliability of the process. Banking transactions that involve critical user data are at a higher risk of being attacked by scammers. Digital ID theft and account takeover fraud is also increasingly common as more and more businesses adopt digital transformations.


With additional steps in the login process, the 2FA is less user friendly and requires 3rd party servers or devices, such as mobile phones for verification codes. In the case of a malfunction, the company has no means of controlling or providing an immediate solution to the glitch.


Other requirements such as high maintenance and database management also make it a less efficient choice of authentication by most companies.


The role of human error in the form of insecure passwords and devices is also exclusive to 2FA and cannot impact face recognition for obvious reasons. Your mobile phones and computers can always be shared or stolen, exposing crucial information to easy theft.


Phishing emails and phone calls have led to millions of dollars in losses for companies across the world, and the threat is here to stay. Hackers are becoming more technologically advanced and always stay one step ahead of the average user, in terms of finding security loopholes.

In view of the security concerns associated with Biometric Verification technologies, face recognition, if regulated properly, is an efficient and widely accepted method of authentication.

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