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Instant Face ID: CRM Will Never Be The Same
The professor sees this as the beginning of a period where “faces will be conduits between online and offline data” and an “age of augmented reality, in which online and offline data are blended in real time, [and] may force us to reconsider our notions of privacy.” Even that old retail privacy standby—seeking opt-in—won’t be a help here, Acquisti argues, “since most data is already publicly available. Facebook sets primary profile photos to be visible to all by default, and members to sign up to the network with their real identities.”
Said Acquisti: “I am not sure this is the kind of world I’d like to live in.”
The retail potential here is virtually limitless. Any time someone walks into your chain, the video can identify that person as a unique individual. Every product examined, every perfume sniffed and any book that is flipped through can be captured. In the meantime, the system is using public databases to identify the customer, to add a name—and much more—to the file. Once identified, it can do a system lookup to try and match the name with an existing CRM file.
This system could work up extensive records, even for a customer who has no loyalty card and pays for everything with cash.
That’s all on the CRM side. This social-media-images-facial-recognition intersection also has vast potential for loss prevention and security. What if security footage could identify—within the three seconds that the CMU study found—almost anyone filmed? What if any prospective employees could be linked to a criminal record before they fill out their application?
Here’s one for the store general manager: What if the system could flag store management whenever the camera identifies someone who works for a direct rival entering the store? How about some data sharing? What if a security third-party company decided to offer data analysis on the side? Perhaps stores could be sold data about customers shopping at competitors, so they can flag those customers for extra nice treatment?
Mark Rasch, StorefrontBacktalk‘s legal columnist and the former head of the U.S. Justice Department’s technology crimes group, said the viability of these experiments is quite real given that Facebook is just one part of the images publicly out there.
“Even if you don’t have a Facebook page, if someone has posted a picture of you—say, your high school yearbook picture—and attached your name to it, you can be searched. Other picture databases, like Flickr and others, may provide additional information, particularly if they are made public. Note that we are not talking about any private databases like DMV records, credit reports or internal company databases. Just what can be found on the Web.”
The next step will be to marry the publicly discovered data with private sources, including the databases in your own chain. “Once I have linked your picture to your name, I can then search for things like your address, your telephone number, your date of birth, criminal history, lawsuits, bankruptcy filings, divorce actions, lawsuits filed and a host of other public databases. Knowing your date of birth and location, I can make educated guesses about your Social Security number (at least the first five digits), and compile a detailed profile of you. If I then link this information to proprietary databases, I can know a great deal about your purchasing habits, Web surfing habits, economics, etc. I can also link this to the car you drove to the mall in, the license plate number and other information. All of this information about potential customers can be displayed instantly.”