How would you feel about total strangers using facial recognition technology to access your facebook page, perform a criminal record check and learn where you worked or lived? Facial Network.com developed an app, currently being tested by Google Glass that does just that. Heralded as the most advanced facial recognition technology outside national security’s bag of tricks – NameTag asks “Why leave meeting amazing people up to chance?” urging us to “simply snap a pic of someone you want to connect and see their entire online presence in one place”. Forget informed consent and privacy settings – if you’ve put it online, all bets are off.
Why mess around with pedestrian snooping – quaintly innocent Google name searches are for sissies. Who needs a name when soon we’ll be able to creep into lives of unsuspecting strangers. Imagine the fun marginally stable stalkers can have – second thoughts and hesitation be damned. Think of facial “tagging” – data bases of hits bought and sold for marketing.
Consider other facial recognition applications – 115 Japanese stores use facial recognition technology to alert shopkeepers when a shoplifter, or my favorite “complainer” enters the premise. Complainers have no say in the matter.
Want a date? Match.com and Plenty of Fish can eliminate awkward first encounters – run your crush through the sexual offender and criminal data bases – false positives and mismatches needn’t concern you, mistakes happen all the time. No skin off your back – tell all your friends, spread the name around, after all you have proof – your CreepSheild app told you so. CreepSheild takes the position all queries must give results; call it the “closest approximation syndrome”. Up pops a face and name – skittish users dismiss 45% probability as a minor detail.
As for NameTag – Google Glass says the program is only available for beta testers – Google announced this is where it stays (making it clear they felt it contravened privacy rules) That said, a little digging around produced numerous invitations to download NameTag.
A little ray of sunshine promises an option to “opt out” – so far all I can find are vague references to “soon” being able to scream no thanks by creating a NameTag opt out profile. Far from thrilling is the idea we have to give up personal information to supposedly dodge uninvited peepers.
Before long, no one alive will know privacy. Problem solving, mystery, discovery, patience, solitude – all lost to gimmicks touted as revolutionary. We don’t need to “connect” with strangers after peering in their dusty corners. Technology aimed at dysfunctional social media junkies doesn’t make the world a better place, all it does is eradicate foundations of human interaction.
Until recently, “big brother” was a concept with definable parameters. Disturbing, hard to digest, yet able to reside in well lit corners of my mind. I recognized where it came from, how it was able to infiltrate, and why we shouldn’t take our eyes off it. Suddenly a rogue upstart arrives – disguising itself as salvation. The government at least tries to pass itself off as a necessary evil – NameTag only wants to make money. Pondering unregulated, profit driven privacy violations raises absurdity to a whole new level.