Every face is different. The precise space between eyes, the curve of the cheek, the fullness of the lips — the sum of these features distinguishes one person from another, even identical twins.
Today, a decent camera and a mathematical algorithm can easily capture these characteristics and convert them into an individualized "faceprint" — a unique identifying tag much like a fingerprint.
Capturing, storing, and ultimately selling facial biometrics has quickly become big business. A recent research report valued the global facial recognition market at $1.3 billion in 2014. It could double by 2022.
For now, this market is completely unregulated by the United States government.
"Here's what's scary: facial recognition tracks you in the real world — from cameras on street corners and in shopping centers, and through photographs taken by friends and strangers alike," Minnesota Sen. Al Franken told VICE News. Franken is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law. He's been keeping an eye on facial recognition technology, and thinks it's time for stricter oversight.
"What we really need are federal standards in place that directly address facial recognition privacy," he said.