At Face Value — Customer Data and Brand Responsibility

The Company
29 July 2019

The rise of face changing apps and filters calls into question the security of our most valuable data — our faces. As more businesses like FaceApp and SnapChat develop facial recognition apps, it is imperative that brands make a conscious effort to secure their customer data 

Face value 

Apple’s latest iPhone can now be unlocked just by lifting the phone to your face. 

At Samsung’s AI Center and the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Moscow, paintings were recently brought to life. Thanks to the state-of-the-art tech and clever meta-learning, the Mona Lisa opened her mouth and spoke. Salvador Dali and Marilyn Monroe came to life the same way. 

Audiences were simultaneously entertained and troubled at the way this new photo manipulation could be used and abused. 

This is because a person’s face is the ultimate data source. To steal a person’s face is to steal their entire identity.  

The recent FaceApp Challenge sparked heated debates about the security of customer data and the way businesses use it.  

The outrage came after a now-deleted tweet was posted about how the company uploaded its users’ images en masse without consent. It spiralled into paranoia from there, instigating talks of privacy policies and third-party access to information from FaceApp.  

Though FaceApp acknowledged that images were temporarily stored in the cloud before being deleted, they ultimately denied the accusations. However, the seed of doubt was already planted.   

(Not so) artificial intelligence 

As facial recognition software continues to evolve to unsettling accuracy, it’s clear that audiences are becoming more aware of what it entails for the future. It’s all fun and games until a nefarious entity takes advantage of these images to infiltrate your personal data.  

Despite this, there aren’t many out there who read the terms and conditions when installing an app. People don’t put extra thought to the way their personal data is being used by companies until they’re reminded.  

As seen with FaceApp, doubt and suspicion spread rapidly among audiences, and businesses could stand to lose a great number of customers because of it. That’s why businesses and brands need to take a vested interest in ensuring the security of their customers’ data. 

Brand responsibility and credibility 

In 2018, British Airways suffered one of its largest security breaches in recent years. Personal information from over 500,000 customers, including vital data like their payment details, was harvested. 

The breach was no doing of their own, but the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the UK pinned the airline with a £183.4 million ($230M) fine. It is the biggest fine given since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect in 2018. 

That’s more than just a slap on the wrist. The GDPR takes breaches very seriously, and takes measures to ensure that companies do the same. As businesses wield more personal data from their customers, more regulations are put in place to ensure their safety. 

Data security, or lack thereof, costs businesses more than just their customers. GDPR’s rigid exacting of the fine on British Airways serves as a warning to businesses to take a vested interest in caring for and securing their customer data.  

At the end of the day, a responsible brand is a credible brand and vice versa. Customers are looking for brands to trust in these times of uncertainty, and stepping into those shoes will prove to them that your brand walks the talk.

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