May 17, 2013
The odds are you are not just a face in the crowd any longer. Even if your picture isn’t plastered all over social networking and photo-sharing sites, facial recognition technology in public places is making it harder if not impossible to remain anonymous. Lesley Stahl reports on the new ways this technology is being used that even has one of its inventors calling it too intrusive. Her 60 Minutes report will be broadcast Sunday, May 19 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Professor Alessandro Acquisti of Carnegie Mellon, who researches how technology impacts privacy, stunned Stahl with an experiment. He photographed random students on the campus and in short order, not only identified several of them, but in a number of cases found their personal information, including social security numbers, just using a facial recognition program he downloaded for free. Acquisti says smart-phones will make “facial searches” as common as Google searches in the future. And nearly everybody can be subject to such prying, even those who are careful about their Internet use.
“One of the participants, before doing the experiment, told us, ‘You’re not going to find me because I’m very careful about my photos online.’ And we found him,” says Acquisti, “Because someone else had uploaded a photo of him.”