Facial Recognition Software


In this blog, we will discuss facial recognition software, an important topic for our society. We will take a look at some basic facts and background related to the topic, examine some of the issues raised in our communities, contrast points of view, and introduce helpful vocabulary. On the SLP exam, you will be asked questions about enduring topics, such as facial recognition, so reviewing now will help you prepare and feel confident in the exam should this subject arise. The issue of facial recognition software will continue to be a relevant topic for some time to come since it has long-reaching implications for our society, so being able to talk about it easily will be an advantage for you. Below you will find examples of the types of questions you may be asked on the exam, differing points of view, issues raised, useful language, quick facts, and resources for further study.


In this section you will find examples of the kinds of questions you are likely to encounter on the SLP exam. They have been categorized as Level 2 (L2) and Level 3 (L3).

    • How are law enforcement agencies using facial recognition software? (L2)
    • How are private companies using this technology? (L2)
    • What are some of the risks associated with using facial recognition technology? (L2)
    • What are the advantages/disadvantages of using facial recognition software? (L2)
    • In your opinion, do the benefits associated with facial recognition outweigh the risks? (L3)
    • Does the use of facial recognition software by government agencies or private companies violate personal privacy and civil liberties? (L3)
    • Is it ethical for law enforcement agencies to employ facial recognition technology in order to reduce crime? (L3)
    • Is it ethical for private companies to use facial recognition technology for marketing purposes? (L3)
    • If you were tasked with drafting a set of regulations regarding the safe and appropriate use of facial recognition software, what regulations would you enact? (L3)

Points of View

There are varying points of view to consider when discussing news topics, such as facial recognition software, as governments and businesses debate the benefits and drawbacks and determine how to proceed. In this section, you will find a discussion of the varying points of view regarding facial recognition software. By reviewing this information, you will be better prepared to answer questions about the advantages and disadvantages of facial recognition on the exam.

The use of facial recognition software is a deeply divisive issue. Individuals, businesses, and governments continuously debate the convenience and security advantages of this technology versus the potential for misuse and violation of personal privacy. Supporters of facial recognition technology point out its benefits in the areas of law enforcement and security. Companies and law enforcement agencies can use this technology to identify suspects or victims who appear in video footage or images. In addition to identifying suspects, facial recognition can be used by law enforcement to find and track missing children and seniors. It also has the potential to reduce the need for security officials to stop and search people by providing a non-intrusive way to track and identify individuals.

Studies have also shown that the mere presence of facial recognition software can reduce crime as individuals are less likely to commit crimes if they know that they are being watched. It could also make things like online banking more secure, eliminating the need for passwords that can be compromised by hackers, thus reducing fraud.

Another big advantage to facial recognition software is the convenience it provides. Security systems that use this technology provide a fast, reliable, and non-invasive way to verify an individual’s identity, and these systems aren’t reliant on measures such as keys or security cards which can be lost or stolen. This technology also allows social media users to automatically tag their friends in photos. Some believe that we will soon be able to make purchases using facial recognition software, making check out quicker and easier and reducing the need to carry cash or cards which can be stolen. Additionally, it can be used to make security checkpoints in places like airports quicker and less invasive for individuals.

Along with the benefits of using facial recognition software, there are significant risks. Critics of the technology believe that it infringes on civil liberties by violating privacy. In many countries around the world, there is a lack of federal regulation regarding the safe and appropriate use of facial recognition technology so that citizens’ basic rights are protected. They are also concerned that it could damage society and restrict freedoms by being used to constantly surveil the public. In China, for example, the government is already using facial recognition to arrest and convict people for minor crimes, such as jaywalking. This technology also has the potential to be used to spy on citizens and monitor what they say and do.

According to a civil liberties union in the United States, which recently introduced legislation limiting the use of facial recognition by law enforcement, “We should all be able to safely live our lives without being watched and targeted by the government.” Facial recognition technology has been likened to taking fingerprints or DNA samples without consent, which violates privacy and civil rights, enabling the government to identify massive amounts of people in a short amount of time. Without proper regulation, many are concerned about the violation of personal freedom and privacy.

Another disadvantage to using facial recognition software is that it is not completely reliable. It is disproportionately inaccurate at identifying people of color and women. Black women are particularly at risk for misidentification by facial recognition software. If misused, this technology could reinforce racial bias against black people.

Additionally, data stored by facial recognition systems can be vulnerable to hackers. With access to so many people’s personal information and biometric data, hackers could cause significant harm. Furthermore, without regulation, companies who employ facial recognition systems could use the data gathered for research, development, and marketing, allowing them to profit from it without the consent of the people whose data is used. Companies could also sell the information to third parties, allowing even more access to personal data.


Facial recognition software raises several issues that need to be addressed in our society at large. This big-picture topic affects several aspects of life and is connected to many other issues in our communities. Studying the information in this section will allow you to discuss the broader implications of this topic on the exam.

The use of facial recognition software is closely related to the issue of racial bias in society and the media. Facial recognition systems are disproportionately inaccurate at identifying women and people of color, especially black women. This is largely because the databases used to develop this software primarily contain images of white men. In order to develop technology that is unbiased, we must also address the biases already present in our communities and ensure equal representation in the media, online, and in these databases.

Another issue regarding facial recognition software is the lack of federal regulation surrounding this technology. It is being developed and implemented faster than governments have been able to regulate it. This allows businesses and agencies to use facial recognition systems with few restrictions and could lead to the violation of personal privacy and infringement upon civil liberties. In countries without democratic processes, the government could abuse this software and restrict citizens’ rights. Without regulation, facial recognition could be used to constantly surveil the public, creating a police state. However, the risks must be weighed against the benefits, as facial recognition systems have also reduced crime by allowing law enforcement agencies to identify and track suspects, victims, and even missing people.

Language File

In this section you will find vocabulary and word collocations that are commonly used when discussing the topic of facial recognition software. Studying the language here will help you express ideas using appropriate terminology on the exam.

biometric (adj.) – using the automated measurement or biological data or using automated recognition of individuals based on their behavior and biological characteristics; common collocation: biometric identification.

facial recognition (n.) – the act of identifying an individual based on the biometric characteristics of their face; common collocations: facial recognition software/technology/system.

i.d. (n.) – abbreviation of “identification” or “identity documentation.”

invasive (adj.) – intrusive on one’s privacy. Listen

recognition (n.) – the act of identifying or the condition of being identified; common collocations: facial recognition, recognition software/technology/system. Listen

regulation (n.) – a law or administrative rule, issued by a government or organization, used to guide or prescribe the conduct of citizens or members of that organization; common collocations: comply with regulations, against the regulations. Listen

surveil (v.t.) – to keep someone or something under close observation; to closely watch or monitor.

surveillance (n.) – close observation of an individual or group; systematic observation of places and people by visual, aural, electronic, photographic, or other means; common collocations: close/constant surveillance; be under surveillance; place somebody/something under surveillance. Listen

track (v.t.) – to monitor the movement of a person or object. Listen

verify (v.t.) – to substantiate or prove the truth of something; to confirm or test the truth or accuracy of something. Listen

verification (n.) – the state of being confirmed or authenticated.

violate (v.t.) – to break or disregard, common collocation: clearly violate. Listen

violation (n.) – the act or an instance of being violated; an infraction or a failure to follow a rule; common collocations: violation of privacy, violation of rights. Listen

Quick Facts

    • Facial recognition software is software that uses biometric technology to analyze facial features and match faces that appear in security images and videos to a photo database, such as driver’s license photos or images on social media.
    • Facial recognition technology works by using the geometry of the face, such as the distance between a person’s nose and chin and the distance between their eyes to create a unique “facial signature” for an individual.
    • It is becoming more and more widely used by places ranging from airports, to shopping centers, to law enforcement agencies.
    • The most widespread uses of this type of software are surveillance and marketing.
    • Some business owners are installing facial-recognition systems to monitor people and identify subjects of interest who come into their stores.
    • Businesses are also using the technology for marketing purposes to track customer interest and create targeted ads.
    • Several airlines have started partnering with government agencies, such as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, to use facial recognition technology in major airports. It is predicted that 97% of passengers traveling through airports in the U.S. will be screened by facial recognition software by 2023.
    • There is some evidence to suggest that facial recognition software is less accurate than humans.
    • Too much reliance on technology and the potential for misusing technology could harm certain communities, such as the black community. One concern is that it could damage society and restrict freedoms by being used to constantly surveil the public.
    • In the U.S. there have been some cases of facial recognition being used against the black community, for example by identifying images of protesters and linking them to social media profiles.
    • Amid privacy and civil justice concerns, some communities have passed legislation limiting the use of facial recognition by law enforcement, such as prohibiting its use in body cameras worn by police officers.