Can the masks that we now wear to protect each other from Covid-19 also protect our anonymity, preventing the latest mass facial recognition systems from identifying us? The short answer is ‘no, most probably not’.
Our relationship with ‘public space’ is being redefined, not just by a global pandemic, but also by a new era of biometric surveillance technologies. Biometric mass surveillance enables companies and authorities to track us based on unique personal data and identify us whenever, wherever we go.
The increasing use of facial recognition and other biometric surveillance technologies – on our streets, in train stations, at protests, at sports matches and even in our global ‘town square’, Facebook – means that our freedom to be anonymous in public spaces, our freedom to just be, really does face an existential threat.
Mass facial recognition risks our collective futures and shapes us into fear-driven societies of suspicion.