Facebook enables automatic facial recognition


In June 2011, Facebook enabled an automatic facial recognition called "Tag Suggestions" based on its research project DeepFace, requiring users who objected to opt out. The feature scanned the faces in newly uploaded photographs and compared them to those in the billions of images already on the system. When it found what it believed to be a match, it would suggest tags - that is, names.

Privacy advocates noted that besides the issue that all users were opted in by default, the feature meant that even people who chose not to use Facebook might have their images uploaded and identified.

At the end of 2011, the data protection regulators in Ireland and Hamburg, Germany ruled that Facebook's user of facial recognition software violated EU privacy laws because it collected biometric data without explicit user consent. In September 2012, the company said it would delete facial recognition data relating to EU users. At the same time, Facebook re-enabled the feature for users in the US; it had been temporarily suspended since late 2011. 

tags: Facebook, automation, facial recognition, opt out
Writer: Ian Paul, Graham Cluley, Loek Essers
Publication: PC World, Naked Security, ComputerWorld

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