Cryptography

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Tag: faceapp

Your Face is Valuable

In Episode 062 of Leading Lines, the point I found most intriguing was when Dr. Bruff brought up the recent hype about FaceApp. And I can relate to this particularly because I remember exactly when that trend popped up and how I, just like everyone else, hopped on that train and tried it out. And at the time, it was borderline amazing  and absolutely hilarious. In hindsight, and with the power of some good ole education, I can now see how potentially dangerous something like FaceApp is.

The usage of facial recognition, especially within an app where they use your own pictures, can potentially be very dangerous because of the implications it has of staying on the web. Whether it’s through FaceBook or Instagram, many people are easily able to find photos of themselves on the Internet, and Chris Gilliard makes a point to say that none of those he himself put online. That just comes to show that despite what one might say or might think, people are always out somewhere in the world ready to jump on anything they can get their hands on and use it against you or to their advantage. Whether FaceApp was used deliberately to track people down is up for speculation, but regardless of whether this is the case or not, we should be more aware of what we put up, whether it be writing or photos, simply because everyone and anyone can see.

Surveillance is (Definitely and Obviously) Wrong

The potential of FaceApp and even Ring Doorbells were  brought up as being possible tools used to advance facial recognition technology. Dr. Bruff mentioned that a lot of the times, facial recognition is not even accurate, and when asked how he feels about this, Chris Gilliard said that the biggest problem for him is not whether or not it works accurately, but just that fact that surveillance in this way is still bad and wrong, period.

I agree with what Gilliard with this statement. A little earlier in the podcast, the fact that some teens have a “nothing to hide” mentality was discussed, and I have to admit, I personally had (and still kind of do) that mentality, but once you actually realize just how much data is collected from you, that type of belief goes away. For instance, we talked about in class what Gilliard brought up about how if you go on Maps, you can see where you’ve been and when you were there for the past couple of months. A teen or young adult would not normally know about this, but once they do, they are immediately freaked out and like Gilliard said, some of his students immediately turned it off.

Surveillance like that is pretty accurate, however, no matter the accuracy, it is not right to collect data from people’s phones like that without explicitly telling them that you are tracking them. It would probably be seen as common knowledge that a GPS can track where you are going, but I think the “most wrong” thing about that is that the data is being stored up and saved.

Face app: How companies use seemingly innocuous apps to gather data on us

The interview with Chris Gilliard dove into some interesting points, from the way colleges gauge student interest by the number of times they open their email to how doorbell can surveil their customers through the use of the Ring camera. But one of the more interesting points I thought came from Face App. This app recently became viral for its “aging” photos, where user submit current pictures of themselves and the app will provide an estimation of how you look in the next couple decades. From happy churchgoers to Lebron James, millions of people have used this app: but where are their pictures going? Face app stores visual data about their users and is then able to curate content or sell that data to other companies, often without or awareness or consent.

But this app brings into focus the broader argument of how companies violate our privacy and take our data through everyday actions. Even when browsing the App Store or google searching items to make a cake, big tech is monitoring our movements to better understand our behavior, and how they can better fit our needs and thus gain more profit. When we as users submit photos to face app or tweet on twitter, we must understand that we are giving away bits and pieces of ourselves to strangers whose sole intention it is to make a profit off that. And it’s important to hold companies accountable for what apps they create, especially if they’re taking user data without an explicit agreement on not selling said data. Although it’s ultimately the companies’ choosing to release apps such as face app, we the users must be more aware of what using those apps entails.

Is FaceApp a Trap?

In Episode 62 of Leading Lines, I found the example of FaceApp extremely interesting. I remember using FaceApp this summer without a care in the world. At the time I was overseas looking for a bit of fun while waiting for food at a restaurant. My friends and I transformed our faces into ones of the far future with just a click of a button. We did not have a care in the world. After listening to this podcast I can now see how this may have been a mistake. 

As mentioned, the pictures that we used in FaceApp (and the transformed old people pictures) could be sent overseas and used for training exercises for similar technology, or for simple data collection. So, it’s possible that somewhere in Russia or China some machine knows what I will probably look like when I am 70. That has a lot of implications. In an extreme way, who knows what life will bring to people in the next few years. Lets say someone has to go on the run from the government. Now they cannot, simply because many countries have an image of what they look like at various stages of life. Or, in a less extreme case, when traveling overseas, you can be monitored more closely. Not only would they be able to use metadata like credit card history, or the times of calls made, they would also have visual data that would be useful at any point in life. Scary. 

 

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