As technology continues to advance, ‘big brother’ governments in dictatorships and “free societies” alike continue to employ it to literally track everything their citizens are doing at every hour of the day.
Take, for instance, the employment of biometrics.
Hackney Foodbank, which operates five separate facilities throughout London under the umbrella of the Trussell Trust network, is a perfect example. The food bank is requiring patrons to use the Face Donate app, which, according to Reclaim the Net, “enables users to receive shopping tokens in lieu of traditional food parcels.”
“By doing so, it helps the food bank cope with the surging demand without the need for additional manpower to manage supplies. However, to avail of the service, users are required to submit invasive facial scans. This doesn’t just facilitate the picking of food items from stores, but also paves the way for tracking purchases,” the outlet also reported.
Silkie Carlo, the director of Big Brother Watch, has been vocal in calling for an end to this invasiveness. According to the Guardian, she said asking for sensitive biometric data in exchange for food is not sustainable.
As such, she told the Hackney Foodbank that “as biometric data becomes increasingly valuable, the repercussions of your users’ biometric data being lost or stolen could be catastrophic.” That’s because she said that biometric data can’t be reset or changed like a password after the data is breached and stolen.
“It is for this reason that the legal threshold for processing biometric data must meet the strict requirement of necessity rather than of convenience,” Carlo added.
Biometrics, the method of using an individual’s unique physical or behavioral characteristics to verify their identity, meanwhile, is rapidly becoming a popular means of authentication. While biometric authentication offers several advantages over traditional password-based authentication, such as convenience, accuracy, and security, it also poses significant privacy risks.
One of the main privacy concerns associated with biometrics is the possibility of data breaches. In recent years, there have been numerous high-profile data breaches that have resulted in the theft of personal information, including biometric data. Unlike passwords, as Carlo pointed out, biometric data cannot be changed if compromised, making it a valuable target for cybercriminals. Once a person’s biometric data is stolen, it could potentially be used to impersonate them, gain access to sensitive information, or commit identity theft.
Another privacy risk associated with biometrics is the potential for surveillance and tracking. Biometric data can be used to track an individual’s movements, behavior, and activities, raising concerns about government or corporate surveillance. Moreover, biometric data could be used to create profiles of individuals, potentially leading to discrimination based on factors such as race, gender, or ethnicity.
Additionally, there are concerns about the accuracy of biometric systems, particularly when it comes to recognizing certain groups of people. For example, facial recognition technology has been shown to be less accurate when identifying people with darker skin tones or women, raising concerns about bias and discrimination. Inaccurate biometric systems could lead to false positives or false negatives, potentially causing harm to individuals who are wrongly identified or denied access to certain services.
Furthermore, there are concerns about the lack of regulation and standardization when it comes to biometric data collection and storage. Unlike other forms of personal data, there are no universal standards for biometric data, making it difficult to ensure that the data is being collected and stored securely. Additionally, there are no clear guidelines on how long biometric data should be stored or who should have access to it, raising concerns about the potential for misuse or abuse.
Technological advancements are one thing, but using them to control citizens or change their behaviors is unacceptable.