facial recognition scanThe following excerpts are some interesting highlights I pulled from an article that came out today, entitled “You’re being secretly tracked with facial recognition, even in church,” by Kashmir Hill at Fusion.net. A facial recognition tech company (FaceFirst) has admitted that 30 churches around the world are using their software to track church attendees. Thus far, they hint that their church clients are medium-sized or megachurches. Is this a passing fad or a new trend for churches? Should parishioners be concerned? You can decide for yourself. Without further ado, here are quotes I found interesting:

  • “He [CEO Moshe Greenshpan] launched the service just four months ago and says churches are already using it to scan congregants’ earthly visages to keep track of attendance at events in order to know who wasn’t there so they can check up on them, or who attends most frequently so they can ask those people for donations.”
  • ‘I asked him if any of the churches are based in Texas or Illinois, the only two U.S. states that have laws on the books about getting permission to collect peoples’ faceprints. “I prefer not to say,” said Greenshpan.’
  • ‘I asked him if the churches let people know they’re using the technology. “I don’t think churches tell people,” he said. “We encourage them to do so but I don’t think they do.”’
  • “Greenshpan argues that churches were already keeping track of who attended their events, but that his technology just makes it more efficient for medium-sized and mega-churches.”
  • ‘“Instantly, when a person in your FaceFirst database steps into one of your stores, you are sent an email, text, or SMS alert that includes their picture and all biographical information of the known individual so you can take immediate and appropriate action,” says the Facefirst brochure. It doesn’t say what happens when that person isn’t you but is actually a doppelgänger with a bad reputation. Or how someone who doesn’t want to get greeted by name gets their face taken out of the database.’
  • “How mainstream society feels about [facial recognition software] is still unclear, though people occasionally seem to be discomforted judging from lawsuits filed this year in Illinois alleging that both Facebook and Shutterfly created faceprints without their users’ consents. But proponents say, with the steady march of technology and image collection, face recognition everywhere is looking increasingly inevitable.”
  • “Of course, if Greenshpan’s claims are true, there are congregants at churches who are currently being subjected to facial recognition scanning who have no idea it’s happening and thus no opportunity to raise holy hell about it if they object.”

Harry A. Gaylord

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