Changing face of hi-tech security

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 May, 2010, 12:00am

Hi-tech security is a welcome addition to any office, especially when the latest developments ensure that only trusted people are given access. Yet the shadow of 'Big Brother' lurks when personal data is gathered and privacy compromised.

Now a company with offices at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park, near Sha Tin, has developed a facial recognition system which protects personal data by allowing users to keep their details on a smart card, instead of a computer system.

The MyLook Card, launched last Wednesday by PSP Security, goes some way to easing concerns about corporations and governments harvesting biometric data, such as facial characteristics, its developers say.

'Traditional facial recognition systems store user-facial data on the system or computer, resulting in a potential security risk of data leakage and misuse,' says Ian Kwan, PSP's president. 'This creates concern among users and system administrators related to personal data collection, storage and protection. The MyLook Card system is designed to address these concerns so as to give peace of mind.'

The new product comes as property managers and building systems engineers seek to enhance security while allowing people the flexibility to enter and exit offices whenever they need. With globalisation now influencing the work practices of more companies, office users often need to work outside the 9-to-5 routine to communicate with international markets.

But reliance on traditional keys or codes for electronic locks presents a security risk and inconvenience thanks to that age-old phenomenon: human error. In response, there has been a growth in the demand for biometric security systems using individual human features, such as fingerprint, iris, voice or facial recognition.

In Hong Kong, the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance imposes rules by which office providers and other bodies can store and use information gathered from security systems. PSP's system places this data on a smart card kept by the user, which can be updated when required. The system eases the data-storage burden for companies by freeing up space on hard drives.

Kwan says card holders place their card on the card reader and look into a facial reader for recognition to be processed, which takes two seconds. Any card data transferred to the reader is deleted after recognition is completed.