Usage of facial recognition software, which identifies a person by his or her facial features, is spreading throughout the government and commercial sectors. Federal agencies and police departments are using it to identify criminals and threats to national security. Facebook, which has an enormous trove of photographs, provides it to assist their users in tagging individuals in uploaded photographs. Organizations as diverse as churches, shopping malls, and casinos are using it. The increasing use of the software has caused alarm among privacy advocates. In case you’re not sure how this technology will affect you, consider these smartphone apps that could be on the landscape in a few years (and how they could be marketed – a little tongue-in-cheek):
People Watcher Plus – If you’re an avid people watcher, you know how many questions arise in your mind about the various interesting characters passing by. Why leave the answers to your imagination? Snap a photo and PW+ provides you with a complete personal, professional, and financial biography of your subject, pulling in data from dozens of proprietary databases. PW+ will help you answer some eternal questions pondered by people watchers, such as: “What is she doing with him?”, “Do you think they’re gay?”, and “Is that Beyonce?”.
FollowHerHome – Whether you’re a besuited player at Friday happy hour or a besotted stalker on the street, FollowHerHome will provide the home and work addresses of the object of your desire. Just snap a quick candid photo from your mobile device and in a few seconds you’re on your way.
Hitman’s Helper – If you’ve ever been assigned a contract hit, you know the frustration of spending days or weeks tracking down your prey. After all, you’re not getting paid by the hour and, lets face it, your bosses are not known for their patience in such matters. And the embarrassment and damage to your career that can result from whacking the wrong guy? Fuggedaboutit! Best used with smart eyeglasses, this app allows you to easily find your quarry in a crowd or from a distance of up to 200 meters. The rest is up to you and your little friend!
WikiRansom – Kidnapping has long been a difficult process requiring a great deal of planning. Following the standard methodology, you must identify a target with deep pockets and then wait, sometimes for weeks or months, for the opportunity to snatch him or her. WikiRansom flips the order around. Whether you’re casing a playground or a toney neighborhood, when you see an opportunity WikiRansom is ready. Just casually point your mobile device’s camera at the target and WikiRansom provides you with the estimated yearly income and net worth of the target or the target’s parents, as applicable. Increase your productivity and hit your monthly revenue targets with WikiRansom!
Auto Blackmailer – This is the first fully automated app that catches and extorts men and women who are cheating on their significant others. Use the Auto Blackmailer to snap a photo of a couple having dinner, strolling in the park, or making out in a parking garage, and the app takes over from there. Auto Blackmailer identifies the parties, determines whether they are cheating (based on data gleaned from social media), and automatically emails each of them the picture along with a demand for payment to Auto Blackmailer’s online payment system. The amount of the requested payment is set in your app settings and Auto Blackmailer will automatically credit your account with 60% of all monies received. If payment is not received within 24 hours, the picture is automatically emailed to the significant other(s). There simply is not an easier, faster, and more exciting way to make money than Auto Blackmailer.
Improbable, you say? Perhaps, but this technology could put an end to what I call “public privacy” or “privacy through anonymity”, endanger every citizen who ventures out in public, and fundamentally change the nature of public behavior.