There has been a lot of debating when it comes to facial recognition, having the FBI scare people off with its Next Generation Identification project and its intention to gather millions of photos in a federal database.
However, the FBI’s system has been proven to be inaccurate despite the EFF’s concern regarding people’s privacy and pointing out the fact that innocent people might end up in the ‘pool’ of photos. It is said that the NGI returns a ranked list of 50 possibilities, giving only a 85 percent chance of returning the suspect’s name in the list. This means that one in several suspects might slip away from the analysis and nobody can do anything about it.
Comparing the FBI’s project to Facebook’s DeepFace system revealed at the IEEE Computer Vision conference could make the law enforcement agency look like little kids playing with toy blocks. It is said that DeepFace can return a match in two pictures with a 97 percent accuracy, similar to having a human witnessing a suspect. Nonetheless, both the social media giant and the authorities are still far away from true facial-recognition capabilities.
Shahar Belkin, CTO of FST Biometrics, describes that for a facial recognition software to work, it currently needs a person to stare into a camera at an offset of 15 degrees at most off the center axis. Even so, the actual camera or photograph needs to present a high density of pixels and resolution, namely to be a high-quality picture. This is why Belkin states that we are still far away from actual face-recognition software that works. Street cameras and even surveillance cameras are not made for facial-recognition technology due to their poor image quality and angle.
This does not mean that your privacy is secure though. Facebook may win in facial recognition, but it does however present an opportunity which the FBI could take advantage of. While the law enforcement agency cannot provide a fully working facial recognition system just yet, it can still drag the social media giant into court orders to gain access to its database. It is just a matter of time until a fully working facial recognition system will emerge.