Facial Recognition and Privacy Concerns

Customer recognition shouldn't turn into customer surveillance

It's easy to discuss whether we should be for or against using facial recognition as a widespread technology. There are benefits on a large scale, as well as definite downsides. At PRE:MIND we see one obvious issue: facial recognition is not within the individual's choice and as such the human loses all control of their own privacy.

Facial recognition is a great, and impressive, technological feat! Technology for technology's sake is not always bad, as it pushes boundaries and fosters innovation. After a while, that technology can be adapted to make someone's life easier—as we’ve seen with the plethora of mobile apps. However, when technology becomes a business decision, too often the end-consumer is left out of the equation and ignored completely.

The reason for use of technology varies: cost savings (great for short term shareholder value), reduced pollution (great for long term environmental goals and regulations), operational excellence (sometimes great for employees, more often a good way to keep headcount down) - yet, any benefit to the consumer seems to be a unplanned bonus.

Facial recognition is too valuable

With facial recognition life could be easier for the individual, at least in theory. Forgetting your ID at home or running out of battery on your phone wouldn't be an issue. And you wouldn't need a chip in your hand, or a keycard, to unlock anything. But more than that, it becomes a prison for the individual. Data theft aside, the mere option to be anonymous disappears.

There’s no way to ‟turn off” your face

It’s no surprise countries are banning it (or simply creating a monopoly situation where there is only one beneficiary of the data—themselves). In a world where you can't hide, your citizens' data becomes a weapon; countries would be fools not to keep it to themselves.

There are benign options

Most people want to be seen and acknowledged. That’s why we greet each other, and why a smile can make your day. That’s why we spend endless hours training our service staff on how to offer the best service.

Any service that is prefered by a consumer is a good service - it's just a fact that not all consumers want the same type of service, and that's why identification (of which facial recognition is one way) is so important.

You shouldn’t offer a glass of champagne to someone who does not consume alcohol, but it might be the best option for someone else. It also makes a difference for your customers if you know if they’ve travelled for 3 hours, or for 30—and it should impact how you treat them and what services you prioritize.

Listen to our CEO, Thomas Kunambi, talk about the challenges with facial recogniton, other solutions for identification, and the benefit for businesses of really being customer centric at Travel Tech APAC panel.