E-commerce and facial recognition: but what about privacy?


Facial recognition becomes part of e-commerce, Chinese e-commerce for the time being. We are talking, quite obviously, about Alibaba, which has introduced this technology through its logistics company Cainiao Network in over three hundreds logistics stations and plans to extend it throughout China.

According to the company, this service will better protect individual privacy, simplifying the shipping process. As of today, senders are required to identify themselves every single time by providing their identity documents; their facial scan, instead, will take only one or two seconds and shoppers will no longer be required to supply their personal data. 

To use this service, users just need to access Alibaba’s Apps such as Taobao and Alipay, and load necessary information for shipments, such as recipients and destinations.

In truth, this attempt had previously been made also by Amazon: its face recognition system, Rekognition, was introduced for a short period in Orlando, Florida; however, it was later suspended because of strong protests from human and digital rights organisations. 

The issue is extremely tricky and divides tech giants, on the one hand, which call for firm regulations in this field for an appropriate and safe use of technology, and digital rights organisations, on the other hand, which fear that this will lead to the total violation of digital rights and the ensuing increase in social inequality and discrimination.