Yesterday I met with one of the founders of a Cornwall-based company “TouchByte” who sell and deliver facial recognition applications for a wide range of purposes.

Jeremy Sneller was very open to meeting with me, and he was friendly and ready for a chat – ready to try and convince me of the benefits of facial recognition technologies. I was grateful for his openness and for his time.

Personally I am uncomfortable with technologies that track me. But they are ubiquitous and gradually I succumb to more as I weigh up the choice between convenience and ‘privacy’. (Privacy is in quote marks as I realise I don’t know what real level of privacy I have or I can expect.) I haven’t yet, for example, enabled the fingerprint access on my iPhone, but I did give my fingerprint data to Disneyworld (and USA Border Control). I have disabled the Location permission on my phone apps, but I do miss out on traffic alerts. Often I mindlessly accept cookies, but I do have the ‘Terms of Service-Didn’t Read‘ widget on my internet browser. I do have my internet browser set to ‘Duckduckgo’ so that my browsing isn’t recorded, but occasionally I still go to a google search page for better results. I’ve retained my google mail and calendar, but I rarely use the google drive or store my photos in the cloud. What do these decisions actually give me? A misinformed or skewed view that I am less trackable?

How will I respond to facial recognition technologies becoming convenient means in my daily life? Will I eventually mindlessly use my face as the key to my car, the hotel, to my workplace? For this is the vision of the future frictionless society.

What I have learnt and understood is that my image can not be recorded and saved without my permission. There are single-visit anonymous category whereby my facial data is deleted directly after use. And there is multi-visit category where I would need to give permission for my facial data to be kept on a database.

An exciting potential outcome from the meeting is that they are open to me coming to play with their technology, possibly testing the final placard portraits and gaining further insight into how they work. I look forward to that!