Thursday, 4 August 2011

Facial recognition software used for such trivial matters as identifying party photos nowadays - against privacy laws?

According to the recent news article on the Guardian (Facebook facial recognition software violates privacy laws, says Germany) Facebook does not comply with German consumer data protection and privacy laws. Anyone who uses Facebook and its option to upload photos on it should have noticed a change in its service in the past month or so. Now, after the photos have been uploaded by a user, the programme attempts to identify people on the photos and suggests to users whom to tag on these photos (i.e. assign names to faces on the pictures). How does Facebook knows who is photographed on its users photos? It uses a facial recognition software... 
Facebook uses facial recognition system

After the last article published on this blog about spying tendencies of some restaurants (Restaurant: a super-spy!), when you hear about Facebook using facial recognition software you really should start wondering whether there is any business that does not aim at fancying themselves CIA nowadays...

Anyway, the German data protection officials have turned to Facebook to demand that it stops running that programme on German users and that it deletes any related data with a threat of ca. 300.000 Euro fine for non-compliance. Apparently, Germany has stricter privacy laws than in the rest of Europe and using such a programme without explicit permission of consumers for the storage of their biometric facial profiles in Facebook's database is against the law. Let's wait and see how this matter develops further.

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