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Would You Want an Always-On Camera?

Updated: Feb 6, 2022

Find out about the over-surveillance of the public

Photo source: Batman “The Dark knight” (Panopticon is a similar concept to Eagle Eye movie)

Remember that film Eagle Eye, where the US’s Defense AI software manipulates two ordinary citizens into carrying out an assassination of the entire US leadership by tapping into their phones’ cameras and audio hardware? Well, we could all be one step closer to that reality thanks to Qualcomm’s new microchip.

As technological advancements like Facial Recognition (FR) begin to fill public spaces, power dynamics between the public and the powers that be are shifting. The concern is that the eye in the sky might actually now be in your pocket, always-on, always recording, in effect, always surveilling you and the general public.

This article will discuss the different ways Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) is being implemented, their potential dangers, and ways that companies like Facedapter are operating with the public’s safety and privacy in mind to counteract these dangers.

Recently, “Qualcomm, maker of chips for smartphones like Samsung, Google, and Huawei, unveiled its new Snapdragon 8 chip, which can run an always-on camera. Critics call it a privacy nightmare.

The Snapdragon 8’s new chipset allows it to constantly run a camera with extremely low power usage, it’s innovative and added value to the OEMs such as Google, Samsung, Apple, etc but the users are not excited about the fact that the camera is always-on (kinda sounds like despite Qualcomm claims the benefits of the always-on camera exactly the opposite. Qualcomm boasted that their new chipset allows phones to turn on when a user looks at the phone and turn off when they don’t.”

This is a concept that can create unease for anyone with a smartphone. A device that in this day and age, holds our lives; passwords, bank details, pictures, notes, etc. If the camera is used to identify the owner of a particular device is inaccurate, which, as written in Racial Bias in Facial Recognition Technology, is the current reality, those dangers hold even more weight.

According to the article, critics of this new innovation also raised serious questions about data collection and whether apps will be able to extract data from these cameras.

“Qualcomm argues that the always-on camera is, in fact, a security feature, able to prevent others from seeing private information over your shoulder. The company says data from always-on cameras never leave a user’s phone. This means it will be up to manufacturers such as Samsung and Google to decide whether the feature is enabled”.

Data Privacy is a fastly growing concern in general but even more so when it comes to biometric data–the most precious data of the digital age. It is specific to one person, not like an ID that can be easily replicated or like a poorly thought out password. It is data that needs to be protected and with Facedapter’s algorithm, the protection of this data is a clear priority.

Facedapter’s FR innovation does not require large, complex, costly, and breachable databases thanks to our facial-onboarding system. It only needs 50 to 100 real people to train their proprietary algorithm and securely process data, without-retaining it.

Facedapter’s algorithm has created a customized facial recognition system to suit any hetero- or homogeneous population our clients need to match. It is hardware agnostic software meaning that it works on any given device, at any point in time. It does not depend on hardware advances like “always-on” features for higher levels of security and data privacy. Experts at Facedaper said we cannot even protect the data breaches. What would that look like when a hacker can attack the always-on camera to get a live stream of your face or facial expressions. That leaves us with a funny but scary question: Are you slowly encouraging and accepting the surveillance technology on our smart devices? Is it because we agree and accept the legal term called “user consent” (I agree to terms & conditions, just check the box and submit).

The world is moving towards the use of FRT, which is inevitable. This does not mean that the public can be taken advantage of. It is important to know the risks, and solutions to potential risks in order to protect public safety and privacy while still delivering on basic security requirements. What’s happening today is opposite to Peter Steiner's cartoon “Nobody knows, that you are a dog on the internet”, Literally, on the internet, everyone knows you are a dog.

Photo Source: Centre for International Governance Innovation

Facedapter’s innovation and prioritization of privacy are what makes it the world’s first ethical face recognition company to provide "multimodal biometric identification" software to take the weaknesses of the industry and turn them into strengths.

Our goal is to build digital trust one face at a time

- Praveen Gajjala, CEO & Founder of Facedapter

We urgently need more of the right kind of technology. The kind that accurately identifies us without threat to our data, privacy, and security. It is the only way to safely mitigate other kinds of technology which can easily be used to control or hurt us–even if that was not their original intention. The Eagle Eye AI program was conceived with good intentions. But what is that saying about what the road to hell is paved with?

Authors: Praveen Gajjala & Malaika Norman

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