Americans warming to use of facial recognition tech – survey

“A growing number of Americans are OK with the facial recognition technology, especially if it increases public safety, according to a national survey released Monda,” Frank Konkel writes for Nextgov. “Conducted on a national poll of 3,151 U.S. adults in December, the survey found only one in four Americans believe the federal government should strictly limit the use of facial biometrics technology.”

“The survey also indicates Americans are more likely to support any apparent tradeoff to their own privacy caused by facial recognition technology if it benefits law enforcement, reduces shoplifting or speeds up airport security lines,” Konkel writes. “Only 18 percent of those polled said they agreed with strict limitations on facial recognition tech if it comes at the expense of public safety, compared to 55 percent who disagreed with such limitations.”

“The findings indicate a potential shift in public thinking. A September 2018 study by the Brookings Institution found half of Americans favored limitations of the use of facial recognition by law enforcement, while 42 percent felt it invaded personal privacy rights,” Konkel writes. “Meanwhile, the federal government’s use of facial recognition technologies has itself increased in recent months. In August, the Washington Dulles International Airport became the first U.S. airport to catch an alleged imposter with its new biometric cameras. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has since apprehended 26 alleged imposters at airports as of November and points of entry using the technology.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’re not talking Apple’s secure Face ID here. We’re talking public cameras with facial recognition, so that people can be identified and tracked.

Apple’s bet on privacy as a major selling point of their devices and services doesn’t seem to be a winning one.

Regardless of major breaches too numerous to list, far too many people do not value privacy. They’re fine with ceding their personal data to basically anyone, including the likes of FaceBook, Google, Cambridge Analytica, etc. to use however they wish as long as they get “free” features and services and cheap hardware. Far too many people are stupid and/or naive.

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Apple should be running a massive ad campaign that clearly explains how they stand apart from virtually every other major Silicon Valley company when it come to privacy and monetizing users. Every time there is a breach or an abuse at Facebook, Google, etc. Apple should be ready to pound their privacy message into the general public’s exceedingly thick collective skull.MacDailyNews, April 10, 2018

It’s not at all apparent that the general public values their privacy enough or even knows that Apple’s privacy is paramount, but the average Joe/Jane does seem to regard Siri as not too bright, putting into question whether Apple’s commitment to privacy will every really pay off; i.e. translate to increased product sales.

Apple product users seem to value their privacy. Non-Apple product users, by definition, do not value their privacy (or they’d be Apple product users).

So, what’s the inflection point? Do Google and the others need to have an Equifax event befall it for their product users to wake up? Would they even wake up if Google etc. did have a cataclysmic breach? We have our doubts.MacDailyNews, October 5, 2017

Until we see everyday people wake up about privacy, we’ll continue to believe that Apple is serving a niche market of those relative few who recognize the need for and desire the type of stringent privacy protections that Apple offers (outside of China).MacDailyNews, March 21, 2018

Apple needs to continue to relentlessly point out how FaceBook and Google make their money: By vacuuming up your personal data and selling it to the highest bidder.MacDailyNews, June 5, 2017

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. OT, but MDN is fond of this Ben Franklin quote, but it really isn’t applicable here. Franklin was arguing in favor of the uniform authority of the people’s government in the face of attempts to evade that authority by wealthy aristocrats.

    In effect, Franklin’s argument here was “all people must submit to the fiat of government.”

  2. The potential for misuse of this technology knows no limit.

    Even if Apple attempts to guard privacy (as many have noted, Apple refuses to guarantee it!), Face ID has already been spoofed. App developers have repeatedly shown they can find ways past Apple’s app review process. Most iPhone owners have never learned to turn off all the default crowdsharing and tracking and “monetizing” info theft crap that every app comes with now. You can bet that app creators, law enforcement, and bad actors are all devising ways to leverage every crack in Apple’s shell. Much worse than a finger print, your face can be used in some exceedingly creepy ways. If you don’t believe it, check out China’s Big Brother social tracking pilot program where citizens are scored on their social goodness.

  3. And were these 3,100 people all in California, perchance? It’s easy to make statistics seem meaningful when your state has one of the largest populations in the country.

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