To some, technological progression is integral to the development of society and the continued aspiration to improve our general standard of living. In conjunction with scientific evolution, advanced technology and its applications can create opportunities for great enhancement with regards to everyday existence, gradually helping to prolong life and improve its overall quality. Opinion varies still further with regards to how far technology may evolve in the future, especially as its pace of progress continues to intensify through the advancement of time.
However, there are others who would cite caution with regards to technological progress, especially due to our overwhelming reliance upon it and its increasing prominence in our everyday lives. Not only this, but there are additional concerns regarding each individual’s safety and vulnerability to the intricacies of online media, as every advancement in software and digital applications creates additional threats of identity theft. Technology has played a significant part in creating a whole new methodology of fraudulent theft and crime, offering perpetrators anonymity as they commit their offences.
A New Threat to Online Security
This week, the news broke that Google were finalizing an application that would allow face recognition from a simple photograph, and offer the facility for users to access the captured individuals personal information. The application is supposedly at an advanced and well developed stage, although a release date has not been announced as yet by the organization. While there are some existing development issues to resolve, there are further delays concerning the nature of how the application will work without compromising users safety or security.
In terms of its fundamental function, the application would take a photograph of a chosen person and be instantly recognized by the inbuilt software. The image can then allow the operator to access a limited amount of personal information, subject to two significant conditions. Firstly, the theory is that individuals would be required to sign a disclosure to allow Google access to their photograph and information for the purpose of the application. Secondary to this, the organization have also yet to confirm exactly which personal details will be linked to recognized image, other than name, telephone number and email address.
An Avenue into Identity Theft
Even with the bare minimum information of a telephone number, name and email address, a technologically aware individual is able to assume an identity and commit fraud through remote and online interaction. This has been proven through thousands of instances of identity theft being recorded throughout the last decade, which have evolved through improved technological processes that have subsequently become vulnerable to the machinations of the criminally minded. The argument remains that we should be using these advancements to prevent fraud and identity theft, as opposed to creating new avenues for perpetrators to defraud innocent citizens.
In terms of recent history however, private telecommunication organizations have used their technological awareness to create two main types of product, which tend to improve the speed of processes and individual ease of use rather than user security. These products create the most significant revenue for companies, and appeal to a general consumer base who wish to improve their own standard of life and function. Conversely, these types of products can also be used by the criminally minded for their own purposes, meaning that concepts designed to benefit society can ultimately become divisive.
Balancing Consumer Wants Against Their Needs
So, Googles new application may be a triumph of digital technology and also have a certain novelty factor that will attract substantial consumer interest. However, when we are discussing products or software that have the potential to threaten user security, then it would be prudent for creators to measure the general consumer desire against their needs. For example, a product may have an exceptional novelty factor and appeal amongst a specific social demographic, but if its use raises potential security risks then it must demonstrate a practical purpose and requirement before it is implemented.
In this instance, it would appear that a face recognition application which allows users access to personal data boasts more of a novelty factor than a genuine purpose, and this type of appeal does not justify the inherent security risks that are associated with its use. Without this kind of consideration, the path of continual technological enlightenment will be fraught with danger and threat towards innocent and law abiding users, with even the most light hearted application having the potential to create the most significant threat to personal security.