Talking Points: Is the use of facial recognition a breach of people's privacy?


Hate it when you can’t talk back? Well, you can with Young Post. Have your say and share with students around Hong Kong

Jamie Lam |

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Facial recognition technology is being increasingly integrated into our lives.

Fung Ho-ying, 15, Tung Chung Catholic School

Yes, I think it’s a breach of privacy. People need to know when their personal information is being used, and our faces are pretty personal. Lots of websites and apps, like Facebook, are already using facial recognition technology to let people add tags more easily on photos. Your privacy can be easily breached with this sort of tech. Imagine a camera analysing your facial features, and being able to tell where you are from, what you like to do, and other personal information. There should be a way to stop social networking sites from knowing so much about us without having to go through lots of little steps.

Saanchi Shah, 14, King George V School

There is a lot of concern over whether facial recognition technology can be considered a breach of privacy. I think it is. The way it works is that it identifies minute details and specific features of a face, and stores it in the device. It’s still there even after you stop using it. This is information that can be abused if it falls into the wrong hands. I think we should be a lot more careful than we are at the moment when we use devices or software that can map or read our faces.

Asher Lau Ka-yan, 14, Tin Shui Wai Methodist College

Of course the use of facial recognition is a breach of privacy! Our phones capture a lot of data when we use apps on it, so facial recognition technology stores data about our faces on our phones. Hackers can get into our phones and take that data and use it to pretend to be you. It would be your face that gets into trouble, not theirs. We need to do more to stop this sort of thing from happening. It’s such a danger to a person’s privacy.

Aaron Chiu Wai-chun, 15, Tung Chung Catholic School

Yes, I think it’s a breach of privacy. I agree that facial recognition is very useful and a very convenient system – it has helped make a lot of things more efficient, like getting through customs or immigration at the airport. However, this information is stored on the systems you use – it’s not deleted. Your face would be linked to your passport details at the airport. If that fell into the wrong hands, then you could be impersonated by someone who is running a scam, or is committing fraud. Who wants that to happen?

Hannah Faith Chak, 17, Po Leung Kuk Wu Chung College

I think it depends. If the technology is being used without the person’s permission, then it’s a breach of privacy. Imagine someone you don’t know having all of this information on you and using it to follow you and watch what you’re doing all of the time. Would you be happy about that? No, I didn’t think so – the government already has more than enough on the people of Hong Kong. Just look at all of the CCTV cameras there are around the city. Actually, it would make a pretty good threat from the government, wouldn’t it? If they wanted us to listen to them, all they would have to do is threaten to use their super advanced facial recognition technology to see where we’ve been.

Karen Ho Ka-man, 16, Fung Kai Liu Man Shek Tong Secondary School

I think it’s a breach of privacy. Imagine if, after you have submitted an application for a job somewhere, the person who is hiring people ran a facial recognition search on you to see what sexual orientation you are, or what mental issues you might have, or what race you are. They would use these things to decide if they want to hire you, regardless of if you are clever enough for the job or not. There are benefits to facial recognition, of course. It can be used to identify and catch criminals. But when it is being used on people who aren’t suspects, and who don’t know it’s happening to them, then it’s not fair.

Helen Liu, 16, Fung Kai Liu Man Shek Tong Secondary School

Technology has been a contentious topic, especially something like facial recognition. Some people think that its use is a breach of a person’s privacy. To be frank, I can’t agree. Facial recognition is actually only usable if a person consents to it. It’s all there in the terms and conditions of an app, for instance. Companies who use it are not allowed to disclose the information they collect from its use either. How can it be a violation?

Ady Lam, 13, Island School

I don’t think it is a breach of privacy. Lots of the facial recognition functions on our smartphones are optional. We just have to deny the apps our permission. Some people are worried that it means the government can keep a closer eye on what we do in our lives, and that it’s a breach of privacy, but isn’t it a sacrifice worth making if it means stopping criminals from committing crimes? Facial recognition has helped us so much in solving crimes. Technological advances are inevitable. Maybe we should just embrace it.

Lucas Ma King-hang, 12, St. Francis of Assisi’s English Primary School

Facial recognition isn’t a breach of privacy: in fact, it’s a guardian of privacy. Nowadays many smartphones use face recognition to replace other modes of security or passwords. These smartphones store the information gained from facial recognition in only the phone and will be encoded heavily. Also, using facial recognition as a password is very secure because other people cannot open the phone with trial and error. The iPhone X, which uses facial recognition as password, projects around 30,000 dots on your face. This makes it impossible to mimic a face either with a photograph or other measures.

Joshua Ho Yui-chit, 12, St. Francis of Assisi’s English Primary School

It is a definite yes. Every face is unique to its owner (except the case of identical twins), so if some illegal organisations hack into the government computer which keeps a record of your face, they can search everywhere for you on CCTV. With this technology, the hackers can do anything. By tracking you down on CCTV, they can know your every move and every action. They can even get a thorough picture of your personal life. And no one would want that, right? But actually this technology can track down criminals too, and is useful in security. My opinion is that we should restrict it, but not forbid it. If this technology is used for good, there are definitely no problems!

In our next Talking Points, we’ll discuss:

Nowadays, some smartphones cost upwards of HK$8,000. Are expensive smartphones worth the price?

We are now accepting your answers for this topic. To take part, email your answer with your name, age, and school, along with a nice, clear selfie (make sure it’s not blurry), to [email protected] by lunchtime on Monday. Don’t forget to include “Talking Points” in the subject line.

Edited by Ginny Wong