Facebook's face-recognition faces firestorms

11:21, June 09, 2011      

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Facebook will once again find itself in the center of firestorms related to privacy issues as its move to enable facial recognition across its entire social networking site stirs ire among users.

Facebook noted that starting in just a few weeks, its system will scan all photos posted to Facebook and will offer up the names of the people who appear in the frame.

All of Facebook's users are automatically being added to the database. That means Facebook's system will be able to recognize the faces of its 500 million to 600 million users worldwide.

The facial recognition feature is active by default on existing users’ accounts, and users who don't want the service must go in and manually opt out of it.

The feature is not going to be well-received by users, says Karen North, director of the USC Annenberg Program on Online Communities.

"People probably want to see each picture that's tagged of them. They want to be notified of what it is, and they want to see who has it and where it's being displayed," North was quoted by media as saying.

European Union data protection regulators said on Wednesday they would investigate Facebook's face-recognition feature. And a U.S. privacy group said it planned to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

“Tags of people on pictures should only happen based on people’s prior consent and it can’t be activated by default,” said Gérard Lommel, a Luxembourg member of the so-called Article 29 Data Protection Working Party.

Lommel said that such automatic tagging suggestions “can bear a lot of risks for users” and the European data protection officials will “clarify to Facebook that this can’t happen like this.”

Source: Xinhua
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