Illustration by Lorenza GrittiIn April a man from Ohio was charged by a grand jury on identify theft charges. However this had nothing with stolen credit cards or anything like that. Apparently the suspect stole a South Carolina man’s identity to gain access of $300,000 in medical treatment at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Centre. According to Kirsten Hallam, the U.S. health-care industry has to pay as much as $7 billion a year on data breaches at hospitals. However HCA Holdings Hospitals in London found a solution to counter this. The idea is to use facial recognition software to identify a patient identity by linking the image to an external database which has all the medical records of the patient – making it more “secure” and faster.

However face recognition software (FRS) is not a new technology.  If you remember, it was used in James Bond films about two decades before the technology was invented in the early nineties; and over the last ten years, the technology was rapidly investigated for legitimate security needs after 9/11.

However as wonderful as this technology may seem, there are a lot of social and ethical issues that may be raised when exposing the public with this technology. Even though medical identity theft would now be much harder, it raises the question of privacy. According to Joy L. Pritts: “Privacy is the ability of individuals and groups to determine for themselves when, how and to what extent information about themselves is shared with others.” When this technology is used the question we must ask ourselves is: “Who has access to this data?”, “Where is it stored, and it is reliable?” because nobody wants their personal data to be leaked into the wrong hands.

Of course we must remember that these questions are raised over any big data system. We can never be certain on how secure this really is. The only thing we can hope for is for the IT tech support to find the loophole before the hackers do. However there are some things we can do as substitute for the FRS. Other methods such as finger print technology could be used however this technology is less accurate and again this would have to link again to an external source.

Even Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google, shows his concerns, that facial recognition is the technology he’s most worried about, as it is “scarily accurate.” (Witness Blog)

In conclusion, FRS is a growing and a potential full technology however it seems that the world is not ready yet for the technology as people are scared of what might be the consequences if this data might fall in the wrong hands.

 

 

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