• March 26, 2020
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Consumers Fear Facial Recognition

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Despite widespread privacy concerns, the use of facial recognition technology is spreading rapidly, which has more than 80 percent of consumers very concerned, according to data from GetApp, an online resource for businesses exploring software as a service (SaaS).

The survey finds that consumers are more comfortable with the use of facial recognition for security purposes, such as passport control, than for personalized advertising and retail purchases. In fact, only 32 percent of consumers feel comfortable having their faces scanned by private companies and 95 percent feel they should have the right to opt out of facial recognition systems used by private companies.

Additionally, 97 percent of consumers support the right to know if a company possesses such data about them, 95 percent think companies should obtain express consent before sharing such data with other businesses, and 84 percent believe companies’ use of such data should be regulated by federal law.

That is already starting to happen. Several U.S. cities and states have already enacted regulations limiting the use of facial recognition, and the U.S. Congress is looking into the subject. Meanwhile, the European Union is considering a five-year ban on facial recognition to consider how to properly regulate the technology.

Businesses are starting to explore facial recognition technology nonetheless, with potential uses including identity verification, access and event management, proof of age or identity for retail purchases, personalized advertising, attendance tracking, emotion detection, and user verification.

Of those, 69 percent of consumers say they aren’t comfortable with businesses using facial recognition for retail purchases, 76 percent aren’t comfortable with it for emotion analysis, and 77 percent aren’t comfortable with it for personalized advertising.

Among the reasons for their trepidation, consumers express concerns about the accuracy of facial recognition and the potential for misuse of such information.

GetApp, therefore, suggests that businesses considering the use of facial recognition for sentiment analysis or targeted advertising recognize consumer reluctance to trust these applications, clearly spell out how the data will be used, and give consumers the option to not participate.

“For the technology to succeed at scale, consumers must trust that it is accurate, secure, and not needlessly invasive. Improved algorithms, responsible deployment, and practical regulation will help us realize the utility of facial recognition technology while also protecting our privacy,” GetApp concludes in the report. 

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