Face Recognition: Do you know your face is already online?


(Picture showing Iris scan, Abigail Klein Leichman, All rights reserved)



Biometric identification is the most high-end technology in identity recognition. In this article, there’re the critical thinking of China’s biometrics and the world’s attitude towards it. Next, analyze what opportunities and challenges Australia will face if it is introduced into Australia. The so-called biometric identification is to use the inherent biological characteristics of the human body to conduct personal identification through a computer. Commonly used features include face, iris and fingerprints. Many countries use it as a major basic strategy for research, because biometric identification effectively avoids the leakage of personal privacy and information errors. After all, human biometrics are unique. Therefore, if Australia can effectively use it for privacy and security issues, then it will be beneficial to Australia.


About biometric identification

(Picture showing Fingerprints, FBI, some rights reserved)

The history of biometric technology can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians who identified people by measuring their size. Such undeveloped recognition technology based on measuring a certain part of the human body or a certain aspect of behavior has continued for centuries.

With the development of technology, fingerprint recognition was first known to the public. Fingerprint recognition became popular in the late 1960s, and it was widely used in the United States. FBI began to introduce a device that automatically recognizes fingerprints. They record people’s fingerprints into a database and collect other biological characteristics so that outsiders cannot enter FBI. However, it was only in 1990 that face recognition began to be used, and it has been greatly developed. Almost all well-known universities of science and technology and major IT industry companies have research groups engaged in related research.

China introduced a face recognition system in 2006 with the purpose of preventing the occurrence of terrorism and a way to prevent international criminals from sneaking into China. Then in 2014, “China began to renew the second-generation resident ID card.” (Hvistendahl, 2012) Everyone had a specific number and entered their facial features and fingerprints into the national safety net. Subsequently, this biotechnology has been widely promoted in China. The most famous one is Alipay, which can be used to pay with face recognition, and there is no need to worry about the password being stolen. Face recognition makes it convenient for Chinese citizens to protect personal privacy.

However, the Australian government’s plan to widely use biometrics has met with strong resistance from the public, but there are also people who support them.

Who say “Yes”

Some people think that the biometric system is a positive effect for Australia. It can be a tool for “monitoring national security”(Smyth, 2019, Chapter 6) and reducing crime. When the biological characteristics of all people are concentrated in the national data security database, the state can supervise in real time. It’s because these data can immediately analyze a person’s appearance, so that criminals can be monitored and tracked. For example, there is a biometric identification system in the security check system when entering the airport, which uses fingerprints and face recognition to determine whether it is an “unauthorized”  (Smyth, 2019, Chapter 6) entry. 

In 2017, Australia has strengthened the collection of biometric information. For example, the biometrics act. All people entering Australia must collect data for use in combating terrorism.

Also, Australia should apply the face recognition system to daily life. In the United States, biometric identification technology is used to store firearms in safes, which can effectively reduce the possibility of children or minors having to store firearms at home. Australia’s attention to the system is mainly due to the fact that national laws do not explicitly prohibit the sale of biometric data. The CEO of ANZ in Australia stated that according to a survey conducted by the bank, “67% of customers are willing to use the Iris scanning system” (2003). People can perform face recognition directly on their mobile phones, eliminating the bank’s queuing. As ANZ Banking Group (2003) said: “This can reduce time costs for customers.”

The most important thing is that tedious things can be simplified with the help of biometric systems. “Compared with traditional identification technology, biometric identification technology has the advantages of security: confidentiality, convenience,” (Christine, 2010) not easy to forget, not easy to forge, and ready to use. It can replace the cumbersome procedures brought by paper documents, and it is more secure. Biometric identification is the highest level of security password system in today’s digital life. As described by Singh & Pereira (2005), “the trend of adopting biometrics around the world is clearly rising.” (chapter 3)

Moreover, the popularization of biological characteristics has promoted citizens’ right to protect personal privacy, and also safeguarded national security, “weakening the power of criminals.” (Smyth, 2019, Chapter 6)

Who say “No”

Although biometrics has played many positive roles in Australia, it also has many problems. The biggest problem is that the Australian government has not established an independent regulatory agency to protect these biometric data, and there is no sound law. According to the existing laws in Australia, minors under the age of 5 do not need to provide biological characteristics, but this conflicts with the biometrics act mentioned above. This is because the Australian government is aware of the “gradual change of the face.” (SPIE. 2019) Christine (2010) believes that when using face recognition technology, “not only the similarity of the face structure should be considered, but also the gradual change of the face.”

The so-called gradual change means that the face changes with age, mental state and emotions will change the characteristics of the face. “Turk and Pentland’s holistic Eigenface matching algorithm served as the precedent for modern face recognition engines.” (Brendan K. & Anil K., n.d.) However they also ignore the gradual change, leading to wrong face recognition, and too much data will aggravate the government’s work. recognition engines.

Another reason Australia opposes biometrics is the problem of data sharing because of the problems of data leakage and abuse. In 2007, biologist Yaniv Erlich’s team from “Erlich’s team used lobSTR to infer the men’s STRs from their 1000 Genomes data, and then searched Y-chromosome databases to find linked last names.”  They identified 50 anonymous DNA donors and their relatives. Data intruders deliberately or unintentionally leak the subject information of the sample data, “will make sensitive information such as the identity of the data subject public” (Hayden, 2013), causing the privacy of the data subject to spread in the society, affecting their work and life. Cause a very negative social impact. With the gradual expansion of the scope of biometric data sharing, the risk of privacy leakage will become more prominent. The original small sample data has also been added to the database, making the ownership of data use rights more and more confused, because any organization that provides the data can view the data. “The data owner can authorize access to one party’s data, and in turn, the party can further share the data with the other party without the consent of the data owner” (Chen D.&  Zhao H. 2012), resulting in unclear permissions for the second use of the data, because In this way, not only the government can view the data, but even companies and individuals can share data, which will lead to privacy leakage.

(Video: World in your eyes – biometric technologies for identity verification are on the rise, Giesecke I Derrient, Youtube.)


For the Internet users

“Various choices emerge about the role of biometric identity as an identifier and these choices are socially shaped by powerful interests.” (Smyth, 2019, Chapter 5) For Internet users, if Australia adds biometrics to the Internet, the privacy of users will be challenged. “Yet security technologies are not neutral.” (Smyth, 2019, Chapter 3) First of all, Internet users will be subject to wider surveillance, and users will also need to “give in” because users will be required to enter more personal information, which may be used for commercial purposes. With the improvement of these biometric information, everything about you on the Internet may be “transparent”, but they are safe.

Final Conclusion 

So far, no single biological feature can meet the requirements of perfection. In addition, each biological feature has its own scope of application. For example, the fingerprints of some people cannot extract features, and the iris of people suffering from cataracts will change. Australia should use biometrics on a large scale, especially in applications that have strict requirements for safety. Data fusion must be aimed at protecting users’ personal privacy and security, and comply with legal requirements. It is undoubtedly an inevitable trend for the development of biometric identification in Australia to use data fusion methods for identification and combine multiple physiological and behavioral characteristics for identification to improve the accuracy and reliability of the identification system.

References List:

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