Face Recognition and Privacy

The interweb is buzzing about Facebook turning off its auto-face-tag feature for European users as a result of pressure from various European privacy groups. This situation highlights one of the critical weaknesses of Facebook and a key strength of Fotobounce. The issue at hand is the privacy of your personal information and photos in particular. The objective of this post is to point out the concern and hopefully influence you to take action to protect your personal privacy

When any web service scans your photos, finds faces, and compares those faces with known people in your contact list, this action should require your explicit approval. It should be very clear that you own the data and that you are not expecting that it be used outside the context of sharing your photos with friends. It’s no secret that, because they do not follow these basic privacy practices, the use of your data is definitely a concern with Facebook and many other web-based services that use face recognition.

The data generated by the face detection process is essentially a “face signature” that is as personal and private as any other data identifying you – including your social security number and your written signature. This begs the question, “With what web services would you normally share your social security number?” Typically, you would only share that info with banks and government organizations whom you trust and know that they are applying appropriate measures to protect your very personal information from the “bad guys.” Although there have been countless examples, online users do not seem to appreciate that, while face recognition is cool technology, it can also be used in a myriad of ways for nefarious purposes.

For organizing photos, face recognition is a huge time-saver, making it infinitely easier to access your treasured photos. Fotobounce applies advanced and accurate face recognition technology to the task of organizing your photos and was designed from the outset with privacy of your information top of mind. When you share photos with trusted friends and family members (a.k.a. Bouncers) via our Peer-to-Peer network feature, the face recognition data is also shared with those people, saving them time in tagging their photos — But at no time is this information made available to the public.

Posted in Face Recognition, Privacy

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