A recent survey by the Brookings Institution found that people are wary of facial recognition technology — despite businesses forging ahead to deploy it.
In a poll taken last fall, researchers at Brookings asked if use of the technology is an invasion of personal privacy. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said it was not while 42 percent said it was. Thirty percent said they were unsure.
“Fifty percent are unfavorable to the use of facial recognition software in retail stores to prevent theft,” researchers at the organization said, adding that 44 percent “are unfavorable to using this software in airports to establish identity, 44 percent are unfavorable to it in stadiums as a way to protect people, and 38 percent are unfavorable to its use in schools to protect students.”
In a research note today, eMarketer said policymakers are already taking steps to temper use of the technology. The firm said that in February, “San Francisco became the first U.S. city to impose a ban on the use of facial recognition by government agencies” and that Washington State Sen. Reuven Carlyle “proposed a bill to require companies that make facial recognition tech to obtain consumer consent, and notify those consumers when they walk into a store or access a web site where it’s in use.”
An analyst at eMarketer said, despite concerns, “brand marketers and tech providers are jumping at the chance to implement the technology. Last year, Unilever tested using in-store displays to measure consumer engagement in Brazil and the U.S.”
The marketing research firm also said the technology can be used to track buying habits, and then alert salespeople “to shoppers’ preferences and previous purchases as soon as they enter stores.”
Facial recognition is also being used to deter crime. Earlier this year, FaceFirst, a face recognition solution provider, launched Fraud-IQ, a technology that can identify return fraud.
“The service analyzes footage of customers to determine whether or not they are attempting to make a fraudulent return,” a spokeswoman told WWD. “Employees are instantly alerted when a customer attempts to return a product they did not walk into the store with, adding a further layer of security to brick-and-mortar stores across the country.”
FaceFirst said the service is part of a suite of retail facial recognition solutions from the company “whose traditional biometric surveillance systems have reduced in-store shoplifting by an average of 34 percent across its customer base, as well as curbing in-store violence by 91 percent.”