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  (Source: popfi.com)
Facebook applied facial recognition technology to users' accounts without notifying them

It seems as if Facebook's problems with security are never-ending. New social networking features roll out and appear to cross the line almost every time, and now, Facebook users are expressing concern for its new facial recognition technology. 

Facial recognition technology can be found in different programs, such as Apple's iPhoto and Google's Picasa. But the facial recognition feature can be turned off, giving users the option to use it or not. Unfortunately, this is not the case with Facebook's facial recognition feature. 

Facebook announced the release of the facial recognition feature back in December, saying it would speed up the process of tagging friends in photos. Facebook also noted that it would only be released in the United States, but in an email statement yesterday, Facebook admitted that the technology had become available to users internationally without telling them about it

"We should have been more clear with people during the roll-out process when this became available to them," said Facebook in an email statement. 

The Facebook response also added that photo-tagging suggestions using the facial recognition technology were only offered when new photos were uploaded to Facebook, and it only suggested friends. In addition, the message mentioned that the feature can be disabled in a user's privacy settings. 

But it's difficult to turn these settings off when people do not know they even have the feature. 

This new feature presents privacy problems because Facebook has over 500 million users, and applying this technology unknowingly could raise questions about whether certain personally identifiable information would become associated with the photos within the database. 

"Yet again, it feels like Facebook is eroding the online privacy of its users by stealth," said Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at Sophos.



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WE SEE YOU
By rbuszka on 6/9/2011 12:54:08 PM , Rating: 2
This just confirms my suspicion about why the CIA has taken such an active interest in Facebook. Here you have one of the world's largest databases of people's names linked to photos of their face from multiple angles and in multiple lighting conditions, which makes Facebook the largest potential treasure-trove of 3D facial recognition data that can be used to recognize your face from any angle, anywhere.

Right now, many security cameras in the field are fairly low-resolution (think grainy 7-Eleven security videos that show up on the news), and aren't high-enough resolution to capture images that can be used for facial recognition, but your cell phone camera certainly is, and it can be recording you and those around you, without your knowledge -- especially if you have an always-on phone like the iPhone. Also, some security cameras can record with high enough resolution that they can make out details of your face. Soon, government agencies will have the ability to search a database for where you were last seen, if they don't already have this capability (which I suspect they always have, and are just rolling this feature out to the general public now.)

Ever wonder why Facebook still hasn't gone public? It's because they'd have to open up records on clandestine efforts like these to exploit their data, with their cooperation. My concern about this isn't with trying to hide any illegal activities (that is, it's not that I have "something to hide"), but losing the feeling of having control over who can see you and recognize you, or who can obtain information about where you are. Essentially, you can no longer remain anonymous if a device can capture your facial image. This should send us all a clear message that in all places, we are seen by and known to the intelligence and law enforcement agencies of our government, for good or for ill.

George Orwell only failed to predict the advent of wireless data devices; the technology to create and enforce an authoritarian regime like that of Ingsoc has arrived. The next step is for governments of the world to decide they have the authority to identify the normal patterns of behavior of their subjects and then if an individual deviates from their pattern, to forcibly retrain them to follow that pattern. We've passed through a Huxleyan reality on the way to our true final destination. Welcome to Orwell's Oceania.




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