a.k.a. facial recognition, fingerprint recognition

The science of using biological property, such as fingerprints, to identify individuals. Popular in sci-fi movies, it refers to voice, fingerprint, skin, or retinal identification. It is increasingly used in the real world, for example, many laptops have a biometric fingerprint password protection, as do versions of smartphones.

U.S. law enforcement also uses biometrics to identify criminals. Since it is no longer necessary to use ink, biometrics make it easy and affordable to "fingerprint" people. In fact, fingerprint and facial recognition technology is becoming an everyday occurence especially at the Department of Motor Vehicles, arrival gates at airports, in schools, and in corporate America (especially in the banking and securities industries). Facial recognition is even in some police patrol cars because it searches databases very quickly. Future uses may include e-commerce transaction signatures identified by biometric means.

Historical perspective: Remember January, 2001 when fans attending the Superbowl in Tampa were surprised to learn their faces had been captured by camera and then scanned against the database of suspected felons? That is an example of facial recognition biometrics.

And in 2014, according to documents provided by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, it was reported in The Week that the NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ, have “intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of Internet users” since at least 2008. The documents laid out a surveillance program code-named “Optic Nerve” that gathered “still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases.” The program, an effort to improve the intelligence agencies’ facial recognition software, appears to have chosen images randomly. In 2008 alone, GCHQ collected webcam stills from more than 1.8 million Yahoo accounts around the world, “including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications.”

NetLingo Classification: Technical Terms