60 Minutes: A Face in the Crowd: Say Goodbye to Anonymity
One of the greatest issues with the rise of Big Data is that much of the information collected about individuals is done so against the individual’s will and without his or her knowledge. The predictability that arises from such data collection is, however, often valuable enough to large businesses that it can outweigh any moral obligations of or to privacy. Knowledge is power, and the ability to definitively know a woman is pregnant before she tells even her father, for example, is a not just a great boon for profits, it is a razor-edge in a cutthroat business world.
Last year, “60 Minutes” featured a section delving into the world of facial recognition and its role as a rising prospect of Big Data turned Big Business. In it we see the possibilities of everyday facial recognition being explored. For example, Facedeals is a new opt-in app developed by marketing firm Redpepper that uses shop-installed Facedeals cameras and facial recognition to recognize customers, probe their online identities for information (i.e. through Facebook likes), and offer a personally-tailored deal that is more likely to be utilized.
Furthermore, other companies are striving to create more effective displays through recognizing the shopper at a given moment in time. The “60 Minutes” presentation features an promotional video from Intel that offers scenarios in which a display may change from shoe sales when being viewed by a young woman to golf club deals when a older man walks by, granting merit to the comparison made in the “60 Minutes” video between today’s facial recognition and the highly-aggressive, personalized marketing in the fictional film Minority Report.
Proponents of widespread facial recognition, such as David McMullen, CEO of Redpepper, argue that we have all already given up our privacy through the widespread use of surveillance cameras, GPS devices, and our credit cards. Therefore the gain of savings is a better deal than receiving nothing and still having our personal information out in the world’s vast sea of data. However, this viewpoint presupposes that the status quo of the loss of privacy is and will always be. The very first question, then, that we must ask ourselves is if privacy is something we want to defend, and if so, what is the best path is to regaining it?