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Minority Report’s Mall Scene . . . It’s Almost Here

Written by Gary North on June 4, 2016

You recall this:

It’s coming to a mall near you. The technology is here.

Nearly 250 million video surveillance cameras have been installed throughout the world, and chances are you’ve been seen by several of them today. Most people barely notice their presence anymore — on the streets, inside stores, and even within our homes. We accept the fact that we are constantly being recorded because we expect this to have virtually no impact on our lives. But this balance may soon be upended by advancements in facial recognition technology.

Soon anybody with a high-resolution camera and the right software will be able to determine your identity. That’s because several technologies are converging to make this accessible. Recognition algorithms have become far more accurate, the devices we carry can process huge amounts of data, and there’s massive databases of faces now available on social media that are tied to our real names. As facial recognition enters the mainstream, it will have serious implications for your privacy. . . .

Microsoft Corp has patented technology that can allow a billboard to determine who you are and show you personalized advertisements. British authorities are using facial recognition at music festivals to spot troublemakers, while brick-and-mortar stores worldwide are racing to adopt the technology to track loyal customers. Even some high schools and churches have started to use facial recognition to take attendance.

This leads to a situation that conjures up our worst fears with surveillance. You have no control whether your face is linked to other databases — such as loyalty rewards programs or police watch lists — or how that information is shared. Facial recognition is usually done without your permission, and there is no established way to opt out.

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