by Alberto Cammozzo
New technological facts, combined in a social perspective, highlight a possible data totalitarianism based on unique biometric identifiers. This article reviews those technological and social facts, highlights the socio-political implications and ventures some suggestion. Technological facts are:
- 1) non-cooperative visual biometrics, especially face and behavior recognition (gait), and their multimodal combination;
2) wearable computing and augmented reality;
3) face recognition search engines;
4) interoperable biometric systems,making easy to enroll and recognize targets on different independent systems, and
5) the build-up of massive biometric data collections.
Those technological facts may combine in a socio-technical arrangement where a securitarian culture prevails, as highlighted by:
- 1) social networks that fight a war on pseudonymity;
2) the “right to surveillance” is socially and legally uncoded and asymmetrically distributed: ubiquitous surveillance is unevenly flanked by practices as crowdsourced surveillance or sousveillance.
This socio-technical setup highlights a condition where a new form of data totalitarianism may raise, especially in countries where technological advancement is not combined with equal improvement in privacy-awareness and democracy. Besides data protection authorities rulings, what initiatives could help to face this threat on a socio-technical ground?
- 1) Re-establishing information symmetry. This could be achieved through publicly accessible face recognition search engines and the decoupling of identity provider and content repository services,allowing both real name requirement and pseudonymity;
2) protecting privacy in the public context, assuming default opt-out from identity recognition.
privacy, biometric data, face recognition, gait recognition, wearable computing,interoperability, pseudonymity, identity providers, data breaches, surveillance, sousveillance, re-identification.