Could Selfies Make Your Personal Information Safer?

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Could Selfies Make Your Personal Information Safer?

First they empowered everyday people to instantly create a self-portrait anywhere, any time. Then they flooded our social media feeds without our permission. Now, they could protect you from identity theft. Thanks to forward-thinking financial institutions like MasterCard and USAA, selfies are entering the realm and positive impact of “disruptive technology.”

With increased connectivity (mobile check depositing, online grocery ordering, etc.) comes increased security risks. Banks, tax agencies, and tech companies that safeguard highly personal information are getting not only technological with security preferences, also creative. Seeing as no two faces are alike, selfies could very well become the new threshold for accessing personal information.

“In our opinion, the password is dying,” Tom Shaw, vice president of the financial services firm, USAA, told the Washington Post.


Forget the fingerprint-based Touch ID login that wowed Apple users back in 2011. By flipping their phone cameras and snapping a selfie, mobile users can now prove that they are in fact the appropriate customer purchasing their plane ticket or transferring money. MasterCard’s “Selfie Pay” is a perfect example.

And innovative big banks aren’t the sole pioneers of this technology, either. The State of Georgia plans on offering taxpayers identification verification through selfies that will be confirmed before their returns are processed.

While facial recognition is increasingly leveraged as a secure solution to protecting consumers’ identities, Alvaro Bedoya, Executive Director of Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy & Technology, notes that the accessibility of selfies may also double as a risk.


“Everyone has your face,” Bedoya told the Washington Post. “So it is a mode of authentication that is inherently public.”

High-quality, readily accessible cameras like those integrated into modern smartphones have undoubtedly redefined photography and given more people access to explore their own creativity. But there are always complications and challenges that arise with any type of new technology. Aside from muddling the significance of the self portrait, do selfies as passwords open a new avenue of vulnerabilities? Or are they the future of cybersecurity? Tell us what you think in the comments below.