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Photo Tagging as a Privacy Problem? 143

Posted by Zonk
from the unflatteringscarf-needstogetahaircut-newshoestoo dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Harvard Law Review, a journal for legal scholarship, recently published a short piece on the privacy implications of online photo-tagging (pdf). The anonymously penned piece dourly concludes that 'privacy law, in its current form, is of no help to those unwillingly tagged.' Focusing on the privacy threat from newly emergent automatic facial recognition search engines', like Polar Rose but not Flickr or Facebook, the article states that 'for several reasons, existing privacy law is simply ill-suited for this new invasion.' The article suggests that Congress create a photo-tagging opt-out system, similar to what they did with telemarketing calls and the Do-Not-Call Registry." How would you enforce such a registry, though?
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Photo Tagging as a Privacy Problem?

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  • "remove tag" (Score:4, Informative)

    by SpeedyDX (1014595) <speedyphoenix@gm ... m minus language> on Saturday June 02, 2007 @02:49AM (#19361607)
    I didn't RTFA, admittedly, but there's a "remove tag" link on Facebook. A lot of people I know use it, and just ask their friends not to tag them. It does the job well enough. And if that doesn't do it, there are privacy settings that can prevent anyone other than yourself or a specific group of people (friends/network/etc) from seeing the photos.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      And if that doesn't do it, there are privacy settings that can prevent anyone other than yourself or a specific group of people (friends/network/etc) from seeing the photos.

      Yes, but that doesn't help when you unknowingly end up in a photo that someone else took.
      • Re:"remove tag" (Score:4, Informative)

        by Andrew Kismet (955764) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @06:36AM (#19362201)
        Facebook notifies you in your mini-feed whenever you are tagged, and also emails you if you set it up to do so (as I do).
        I've untagged photos of myself before. Unless someone were to place these photos on, say, flickr, where I have no presence, I can control when I am tagged.

        In the information-rich anarchy of the web, privacy is a dying hope. Anywhere you can be seen in public can be recorded, labelled, stored, distributed, and more. It's possible to hide, but it's getting harder.
        • Re:"remove tag" (Score:4, Insightful)

          by symbolic (11752) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @06:49AM (#19362239)
          This is nasty. It's like junk mail. Never ceasing, always something you have to keep an eye out for, and something that ultimately, you have to resolve, day in and day out. I can see this being an even bigger problem - what if you have no involvement at all with any of these services, but others that you know, do- they tag a picture with your name, and you'd have no way of knowing.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by TheSciBoy (1050166)

            With that kind of friends, who needs enemies?

            I really hope my friends aren't stupid enough to put pictures of me on the Internet without asking me first. Never mind tagging them with my name. I would never put an image of another person on a public web without asking their permission first. It's just common sense.

            Then again, common sense is uncommon these days.

            • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

              by cdrdude (904978)
              I've looked through my friends camera before, checking for pictures of myself. I think it's safest that way, if a picture is deleted at the source, it can't get uploaded. Of course the best method for not having pictures taken of myself is to be ugly. I've had the most sucess with that, I'm never in the pictures :-)
          • What, you have a problem with the Cult of Personal Responsibility?

            Individuals must keep track and protect their own privacy and images. Just like they should be carrying their own pavement instead of leeching off the public road system -- which is the most obscene part of the welfare state.

            Every person in America needs a led test for their water. An e-coli sample kit for their meat. And a UV sterilizer for their vegetables. Of course, you also need to have a amperage-regulator and do a few days testing the
        • by colmore (56499)
          Right now, a lot of employers won't hire someone if there's easily googleable photos of them in college, say, at a drinking party. I think what's happening in privacy (at least for the connected middle class -- the underclass doesn't have access to this stuff, and the true upper class has been practicing cultural invisibility in America since the 1930s) is that we're all becoming dormmates and acquaintances, and shots of us at 19 drinking, acting silly on vacation, and an angry blog or two by an ex are jus
    • by Threni (635302)
      > I didn't RTFA, admittedly, but there's a "remove tag" link on Facebook. A lot of people I know use it, and just ask their friends
      > not to tag them. It does the job well enough. And if that doesn't do it, there are privacy settings that can prevent anyone other
      > than yourself or a specific group of people (friends/network/etc) from seeing the photos.

      How does that help me to get my tag removed from your photos, assuming you don't want to?
  • by YouTookMyStapler (1057796) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @02:51AM (#19361619)
    that when you posted something, especially photos, on the internet it was no longer private.
    • by adnonsense (826530) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @03:07AM (#19361669) Homepage Journal
      Unless of course someone else posted the photo without your permission.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by OverlordQ (264228)
        If you're that worried about people seeing a picture of you, then don't leave your house. Personally, I don't see the BFD
        • by Sunburnt (890890) * on Saturday June 02, 2007 @04:32AM (#19361875)
          The big fucking deal isn't the picture itself, but the connection of the picture with your name. I don't mind that unknown people can find pictures with my unlabeled self in the frame by poking around websites relevant to my hobbies. I DO mind, however, if a simple search for my real name can present the searcher with a look into my private life because some "friend" feels it necessary to catalogue the names of everyone in their photos.
          • by OverlordQ (264228)
            Yup a still frame gives good insight into somebody's private life. If it's not something you want people to see, then I reiterate my previous point, DON'T TAKE A PICTURE OF IT.
            • And the previous point will be re-iterated... What if someone else takes the picture?

              You must have remarkable restraint if you've never done anything that might be embarrassing were someone to take a picture of it and show, say, your boss, your wife, your parents, etc.

              • by profplump (309017)
                If someone else is in a position to take a picture of you doing something embarassing then it's a moot point -- you've already lost your privacy, and anything you do to supress their right to show and label their pictures is an afront to freedom of speech. You don't get to control pictures (or captions thereof) that other people take legally, at least not in any country where I vote.
            • by Sunburnt (890890) *

              Yup a still frame gives good insight into somebody's private life.

              I didn't say "insight." I said "a look." Frankly, nobody has the right to either without one's consent, implicit or express.

              If it's not something you want people to see, then I reiterate my previous point, DON'T TAKE A PICTURE OF IT.

              Damn, you still haven't bothered to RTFA?

            • Yup a still frame gives good insight into somebody's private life.
              Depending on which website the still frame shows up on, it can give a huge insight into somebody's private life!

              You might still be ok to have your pictures show up there, because you figure that only people who know (or suspect) already will be checking out that website. Of course, the situation changes completely if google pops up that site when your real name is entered.

          • I DO mind, however, if a simple search for my real name can present the searcher with a look into my private life because some "friend" feels it necessary to catalogue the names of everyone in their photos.

            The article proposes a registry of people who want to be excluded from automatic (machine) tagging, based on face recognition software; It's not proposing that we limit your friends' free speech rights.

            IE, "This is a picture of Sunburnt, who is user 890890 on Slashdot," would still be legal, as far as I

            • by Sunburnt (890890) *

              The article proposes a registry of people who want to be excluded from automatic (machine) tagging, based on face recognition software; It's not proposing that we limit your friends' free speech rights.

              Indeed, but I was responding to someone who'd obviously not read the article, so I didn't figure that was too relevant.

              IE, "This is a picture of Sunburnt, who is user 890890 on Slashdot," would still be legal, as far as I understand the article's efforts.

              As it should be. My point was that a friend's freedom

              • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

                by LionKimbro (200000)

                As it should be. My point was that a friend's freedom of speech to provide unwelcome public identification would likely bring my freedom of association into play, assuming the person in question wasn't willing to remove my real name from Flickr. Or, in this case, disassociation.

                Well, ...

                You're joking, right. ;)

                Your making a pun, but you're not seriously suggesting that there's a relevant contradiction between the freedom of association (freedom to hang out with people, or even to NOT hang out with people, f

                • by Sunburnt (890890) *

                  Your making a pun, but you're not seriously suggesting that there's a relevant contradiction between the freedom of association (freedom to hang out with people, or even to NOT hang out with people, for that matter,) and the freedom of speech here...

                  Right.

                  To be more explicit: I'm saying that if a friend used his freedom of speech in this manner and then refused the courtesy of removing my name from the picture's tags upon a polite request, I would cease hanging out with that particular person. No contradi

          • by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross@ya[ ].ca ['hoo' in gap]> on Saturday June 02, 2007 @05:17AM (#19361991)
            This is an interesting double edged sword because it the argument that actors have been fighting for years! Essentially actors want the ability to say you can't take a picture of me in public. Yet right now the court ruling is that once you are in public then there is no expectation of privacy. In the UK they said reasonable (eg against voyeurism), but beyond that you are in the public and people can take pictures. So if you now post to the Internet the same thing is allowed. This is why I don't publish to public services. I have my own server with name and password and I share with family and friends. Beyond that nothing. Frankly its people's own fault that they were too short sighted and too cheap to not take better precautions.

            So if you argue that there is no name tagging then there is no right to take pictures of actors, politicians, etc. The law is about the general public not individual situations.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by symbolic (11752)
              Frankly its people's own fault that they were too short sighted and too cheap to not take better precautions.

              Such as? Seriously - when this notion "you have no expectation of privacy if you're out in public," became commonly accepted, I doubt seriously they were able to foresee the development of the internet, and how completely inexpensive and painless it is to become both the one taking the pictures and the publisher. Publishing no longer takes place with the limitations imposed by traditional media, but
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by aussie_a (778472)

            I DO mind, however, if a simple search for my real name can present the searcher with a look into my private life because some "friend" feels it necessary to catalogue the names of everyone in their photos.
            Be more careful with your friends then.
            • by Sunburnt (890890) *

              Be more careful with your friends then.

              Well, it hasn't happened yet, if that's any indication. Oddly enough, I'm not that close with anyone unconcerned with privacy. Exhibitionists, in my experience, are generally exhibitionists because their lives are too boring to hide, or at the other end of the spectrum, outrageous for the sheer purpose of provoking outrage.

          • by 1u3hr (530656)
            s. I DO mind, however, if a simple search for my real name can present the searcher with a look into my private life because some "friend" feels it necessary to catalogue the names of everyone in their photos.

            So ask your friend to remove it.

            A while ago I started to get spam, which because of the way it was addressed I tracked down to an acquaintance's webpage where he'd acknowledged some advice I'd given, quoting an email I'd sent with that address. So I asked him to pull it and after a while that spam d

            • by Sunburnt (890890) *

              So ask your friend to remove it.

              That's what I'm advocating, yes. Disagreeing with a replier to the main article does not denote approval of the article's content.

          • if a simple search for my real name can present the searcher with a look into my private life because some "friend" feels it necessary to catalogue the names of everyone in their photos.

            You and the other poster seem to think that you're arguing about whether or not people should post photos online. But reading your comments as a third-party it seems that you both disagree over what a photo actually is. When you're hanging out with your friends in a private environment you have some expectation of privacy. A

            • by Sunburnt (890890) *

              You and the other poster seem to think that you're arguing about whether or not people should post photos online.

              No. The meat of the issue is whether that photo should easily be accessible through a name search.

          • by abbamouse (469716)
            What a very odd sig to go with that post...
            In any case, I tag photos with first names only, precisely to avoid any invasion of my friends' privacy.
            • by Sunburnt (890890) *

              What a very odd sig to go with that post...

              Not really. It refers to making anonymous statements in the media, not being judicious with the amount of times one appears in public databases.

              In any case, I tag photos with first names only, precisely to avoid any invasion of my friends' privacy.

              Then you're a good friend in that regard.

      • by MrLint (519792)
        Alas even if it was done without your permission, it does not make it 'unpublic' anymore.
      • Don't laugh at this, I'm being dead serious:

        Register the image of your face as a Servicemark. Sue anyone who tries to post it without your permission. "Defend" your mark by not letting arbitrary people take your picture. (I would say Trademark, but in most cases Trademarks are only applicable when you're selling something, Servicemarks are applicable at any point you may perform a service...)

        Of course, you'd have to be a really paranoid SOB to really care that much. But hey, it's legal (as long as you
        • by FLEB (312391)
          Unless they were misrepresenting your face as an endorsement, labeling, or other relation to you and your service, I don't think you'd have a defensible position. It's no infringement to take a photo of a street scene with a business' sign in the frame, unless there's a real chance of people thinking the trademark-holder endorsed the photo.
  • I think tagging works best in services such as Panoramio [panoramio.com] where you can actually make something of the photo you tag. Since Panoramio is by definition a "landscape photos" service, tagging public dominion images will never create any problem.

    The only way out of personal tagging photo services is if companies like Flickr keep an e-mail address for those seeing their photos online and wanting them off. But they will have to prove they are the guys/gals on the photos. How will they do that? Sending other photos
  • If you enjoy privacy, don't put your personal information (including pictures of yourself) on the internet. What's so hard about that?
    • Not so simple (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ubernostrum (219442)

      Random other person X takes a picture of you. Maybe you were standing in a public place and didn't know your picture was being taken. Person X uploads the photo and tags it with your name. Other than spending your entire life outside of publicly-viewable physical locations and simultaneously ensuring that no-one knows your name (so that if they do manage to get a picture they don't know how to tag it), what sort of control do you have over that?

      • Re:Not so simple (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dteichman2 (841599) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @03:22AM (#19361693) Homepage
        Outside of celebrities and political figures, whose lives are public anyway, the chances of a random person taking a photo of you and posting it on the internet tagged with your name are astronomical.

        Worst case, send the host a letter demanding the removal of your name from the image tag. State that it is a risk to your health and safety. Most people, not wanting to be at risk of criminal negligence, will comply.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Qzukk (229616)
          and posting it on the internet tagged with your name are astronomical.

          Random person posting your picture on the internet, plus random someone else tagging said picture once its on the internet with your name is less so.

          Especially once you realize that we're no longer talking about people running around in public, but pictures taken at private parties and such where the people present are all likely to know each other, or know someone who knows the other's name.
        • What about the photos of individuals on maps.google.com?
      • Re:Not so simple (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Znork (31774) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @03:28AM (#19361711)
        You know, all of a sudden I gain a whole new understanding of why some women willingly wear a burka.

        I can see a whole new fashion genre being driven by our emerging everpresent surveillance and recording. When will ThinkGeek get a 'privacy enhanced clothing' section?
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Other than spending your entire life outside of publicly-viewable physical locations and simultaneously ensuring that no-one knows your name (so that if they do manage to get a picture they don't know how to tag it),what sort of control do you have over that?

        None. As it should be. You're in public. People might *gasp* see you! I know, scary! As far as I can tell this is a free speech issue. I may have a photograph of you, but that doesn't make it your photograph. It's my photo and I'll do what I want with i

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Sunburnt (890890) *

          My associates and I make out livings photographing and videotaping people in public places, labeling the images with their respective names and the location the image was acquired in, uploading portions onto the internet, and selling the ultimate result by the thousands on DVD internationally[...]There is nothing wrong, immoral or insidious about it.

          Yeah, it's not like there are laws against commercial exploitation of another's image without their express consent. Of wait, there are, so I guess there is so

      • by 1u3hr (530656)
        Random other person X takes a picture of you. Maybe you were standing in a public place and didn't know your picture was being taken. Person X uploads the photo and tags it with your name.

        How does X know who you are?

    • Re:Simply put.. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Kjella (173770) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @03:30AM (#19361717) Homepage
      We're not talking about self-tagged images here. What happens is that Bob, which you barely know ran around taking pictures at some social gathering. Maybe he's one of those friends who likes to make "party pictures". Then Bob uploads those pictures to myspace or facebook or whatever, and tag them with the names of the people present. Then suddenly you find a picture of yourself in a pirate hat drinking an unspecified liquid with the subtitle "Drunken pirate" and don't get your teaching degree or whatever.

      I mean among friends this wasn't exactly unusual in the paper days. You have a picture from the New Year's Eve party, flip it over and it says "Joe, Bob and Anne drinking champagne". The trouble comes when this isn't some private photo album, it's something published and tagged and tracable to you. And unlike other info online you can pretty easily tell if this is the same guy you're considering hiring or not. Of course, you might say it's only the truth or whatever. But if you haven't done anything in your life you'd not very proud off like getting completely drunk and... well then you haven't lived enough.
      • The solution: SPAM (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @04:50AM (#19361915) Homepage
        The solution I prefer over restricting access to information is flooding everybody with information. OK, there will be pictures of you doing something stupid. So what? There will be pictures of everybody doing something stupid.

        The only advantage I can see to restricting information is that people can keep their hypocritic attitudes. With the flooding solution, attitutes will need to change.

        I guess this is why Congress attacks picture labeling, rather than the kind of privacy information that really matters, such as shopping habbits. The later just re-inforses the corporate hold over the citizens, while the prior threatens the micture of hyporacy and pre-judices commonly known as "family values".
        • by statusbar (314703)
          What if they tag a stupid photo of someone that looks like you with YOUR name?

          What recourse do you have?

          --jeffk++
      • Re:Simply put.. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross@ya[ ].ca ['hoo' in gap]> on Saturday June 02, 2007 @05:27AM (#19362007)
        Well don't act like a drunken pirate! And if a company is not willing to overlook a simple once in a while drunken pirate situation then you obviously don't want to work for the company. Or if you are more often than not the drunken pirate, well then you have a problem.

        I think the bigger problem is that people have to come face to face with hypocrisy. I remember when I was a kid in highschool (late 80's) there were teenagers that would be so nice and honorable to certain people. And then be the biggest bully to other people. People regularly were hypocritical and because there is no tape rolling or picture being snapped people could always talk themselves out of the tough situations. Now those excuses don't cut it anymore because, well there is proof to the contrary. And now the teenager that was so nice in one situation and bully in another has been outed.

        I personally could never play the one face to one crowd and another face to another crowd game and I am glad it is over. AND I am glad it is over for others. Let's see, police beatings where people said it never happen, politicians insulting people taping them when they said oh it was not so bad, the list goes on!
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by manekineko2 (1052430)
          This is an extremely Slashdot reader type of reply. Modded up to boot. You see the world much too black & white, from a very engineering guy sorta perspective.

          If a company is not willing to overlook a simple drunken pirate situation you didn't want to work for them anyways? For most people this is not a mater of principle on which to draw the line in the sand. They just want to be able to keep their jobs. Maybe they really want to work at the company other than that, and they'd like to just keep th
        • Re:Simply put.. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by EricFenderson (64220) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @09:57AM (#19363085)

          Well don't act like a drunken pirate! And if a company is not willing to overlook a simple once in a while drunken pirate situation then you obviously don't want to work for the company. Or if you are more often than not the drunken pirate, well then you have a problem.

          That'd be a fantastic idea if photos were somehow truth the way people think they are. We have this cultural idea that a photo is a cold, unlying thing. Of course, if Bob the party photographer only takes photos at paries, his photos tell a very different story than Dave, the guy you work with that only takes photos of you at work. Or how about your Grandmother that only takes photos at family gatherings?

          Saying "Well don't act like a drunken pirate!" is a gross oversimplification of the situation. Who gets to pick the story that the prosecution tells when you are drug into court over something maybe related and maybe unrelated? Do you think they are going to be honest to the jury and let them know that there's more to the story?

      • by adyus (678739)

        I should have posted this higher, but this is as good a place as any...

        The only solution to this ongoing privacy problem, and one that people happily ignore, is to never do anything that you would be ashamed of! It's that easy... If an employer decides to not hire you because you enjoyed a glass of champagne at a party then you most likely would not enjoy working for him/her anyway.

        Why don't we all just admit to who we really are and take responsibility for our actions?
    • by EdMack (626543)
      That you get tagged without ever touching the internet?
    • Re:Simply put.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 02, 2007 @04:22AM (#19361843)
      You know, that Jack Skellington image you have up at http://dteichman.deviantart.com/ [deviantart.com] will probably get you into trouble. Disney is particularly lawyer-happy these days, and you seem to be in Orange County so you're also covered under California law. Hope none of the hundreds of thousands of people who look at this story feel like turning you in...

      But I'm sure you're covered by your domain's tech contact, "Angel of Hell, Satan satan@holyhell.net". (Admin contact at 1834 E Hallandale Beach Blvd, Hallandale Beach, FL 33009 [google.com]. Can't wait for the Google Street View.)

      From your blog: "We all have the freedom to do what ever we want, to think what ever we want, and be what ever we truly want to be. I feel that we need to exercise this privilege more often.... I think every person needs to either shut up or prove their point dead cold and if they can't they need to be enlightened on how stupid they are being. If you have something to say, say it then move on or try and prove your point, but don't drone on like a preacher about something not many people even really want to hear about. I am a strong believer in torture, rather than humane execution. This is the rule of The Red Death. Don't like it? FUCK YOU!"

      See ya later, Red Death. And remember, if you enjoy privacy, don't put your personal information on the internet. What's so hard about that?

      ps: If you wrote "Frankly i'm disapointed with my personal endurance psychological and physical over the past month and have gotten fed up and angry. Fuck you all in the pisshole with a sharpened and spiny knife", you may be a psychopathic time-bomb in waiting. Try not to kill anybody!
      • Re:Simply put.. (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 02, 2007 @05:56AM (#19362075)
        Well, admittedly, torture-loving Daniel Teichman of Orange County is only 16 at the moment, so I'm sure his grossly immature attitude will come back to haunt him when he's 18 or 19 and looking for a job. Oh, and please don't bother his father, Dore Teichman. He's a performance engineer for IBM in Miami--we wouldn't want to disturb him simply because his son was being obnoxious. And BTW, isn't it some sort of crime to put false information in a domain registry listing? Sure would hate for someone to go after Daniel Teichman for that.
        • me =/= TheRedDeath

          I just run the place. He's a separate author.
        • Additionally, I don't live in Orange County. I also don't have a father who works at IBM. Strange...

          You just ruined someone you don't know!
  • "New invasion" it says, but isn't it just people doing whatever they want with their property. In this case that being photos?

    If you're trying to stop people from doing whatever they want with their own (online accessible) photos, some further steps down this "new invasion" might be: "My name/company/pet is mentioned/being blasted on a website! Noooooooooo must stop them!"
  • by VE3OGG (1034632) <[ac.car] [ta] [GGO3EV]> on Saturday June 02, 2007 @03:06AM (#19361663)
    I am by no means trolling here, when I say that if someone doesn't want their picture floating around on the Internet, don't send it into the tubes. As far as I am concerned, once it has gotten there, the horse has left the barn.

    As for laws that would deal with some kind of do-not-tag list, that is just damned stupid. Yes, somehow, magically all of these photohosting sites are going to be able to use facial recognition and ensure that someone else's photo doesn't have you somewhere in it? Facial recognition, from what I am hearing, is coming along, but it is nowhere near "that ready".

    Personally, I am going out on a limb here, I see two options: one is that since most photos of people of teh interwebs is self-posted, simply have an option chosen at registration that says something to the effect of "do you wish other users to tag your photos?" and have a radial button beside yes/no. Or even a photo-level option, so that upon uploading and posting a photo it asks a similar question.

    My other idea is decidedly less kind to those who get their photo posted: don't let other people take your picture. yes folks, you don't really need your photo taken, and it can be done with out looking like a party pooper. Volunteer to take the picture.

    People have to start learning about technology, and the consequences of society's use of it. Imagine if people knew that posting that picture of them underage drinking at a high school bash on MySpace is going to get them in deep doo doo. Or that what they type can be used against them. Or that they shouldn't just post their personal details for all to see (including extra-marital affairs.... something I have seen several times) With action comes consequence... here endeth the lesson.

    Now, for those who might start pointing their fingers at me, saying that "they are talking about people who get caught on camera without knowing it, like the bikini-clad Stanford co-ed students on Google Earth and such!" To that, I would say, you can't see a single identifying feature about them. And if you did get a picture taken by Google Earth that could be used to identify you (and let us face it, that number would be small indeed), if you were outside, you really have no reasonable expectation of privacy in such a situation.

    Just my 2c...
    • by xaxa (988988)
      Now, for those who might start pointing their fingers at me, saying that "they are talking about people who get caught on camera without knowing it, like the bikini-clad Stanford co-ed students on Google Earth and such!" To that, I would say, you can't see a single identifying feature about them. And if you did get a picture taken by Google Earth that could be used to identify you (and let us face it, that number would be small indeed), if you were outside, you really have no reasonable expectation of priva
  • Sometimes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by evanbd (210358) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @03:08AM (#19361673)
    Sometimes the right solution to a problem isn't a new law. I confess I'm not sure what the right solution is (it might be "ignore it," or it might not), but I don't think it's a new law...
    • if only more people saw it that way. I find myself thinking the exact same thing more and more often all the time. though I am only old enough to actually pay attention for a few years now so this may have been an issue for quite some time. my knowledge of basic history tells me it is getting worse though. lots of people talk about wanting small government, how do these "save me from my own stupidity" laws ever get far enough for me to see them in the news?
  • by iamacat (583406) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @03:29AM (#19361713)
    We have a plenty of current privacy concerns to worry about - unwanted indexing of old postings, surveillance cameras, abuse of SSNs and credit card purchase histories. Let facial recognition software become useful before we legislate it, otherwise the law will likely be both incomplete and overreaching due to lack of experience. Certainly, there should be no restrictions on people indexing their private photo libraries without asking for anyone's permission.
  • by LionKimbro (200000) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @03:30AM (#19361719) Homepage

    "Although Catherine Bosley received attention because of her public career, the lesson of the story is applicable to anyone: when employers or others have easy access to our most personal information, they may not like what they see."
    -- TFA

    I'm trying to figure out, "What is it about this quotation that's bothering me?"

    There's something that bugs me about this whole thing; Like we're ashamed of who we are, or like we're trying to keep ourselves safe from all the judgmental people out there, or like we don't have the courage to tell people, "Hey, this is how I have a good time, and you just have to deal with it."

    I can't quite put my finger on it...

    I think it has something to do with my ideas about how social progress is made. I think that, when, as a people, we're hiding and squirreling away the realities in our lives, from "the public," I think we're doing a disservice to the world. When people catch our private lives, and we have to say, "Well, you know what? Screw you all- THIS IS OKAY, and here's why" -- we find ourselves unwitting social activists.

    We may have spent all our lives hating social activists, and bitterly spitting, saying, "Just keep it private," but now, something is exposed, and we have to start talking to people.

    I think that's something of how progress is made, in society. I think a genuinely tolerant and compassionate society is not made of a bunch of people putting blinders over their eyes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Valacosa (863657)
      On the contrary, I think you put your finger on it very well.
    • by autophile (640621)

      It's not that we're ashamed of who we are. It's that other people will draw their own conclusions from your public persona, and use that to make decisions about you. That includes potential employers and current employers. For example, it's common in large corporations to fire employees who have been publically drunk in some situations, because the employee is considered to be representing the corporation -- even during off-hours.

      Sadly, we all have to interact with other people, and that puts restriction

    • by inviolet (797804)

      There's something that bugs me about this whole thing; Like we're ashamed of who we are, or like we're trying to keep ourselves safe from all the judgmental people out there, or like we don't have the courage to tell people, "Hey, this is how I have a good time, and you just have to deal with it."

      We aren't necessarily hiding ourselves from all inspection and judgment, Rather, we are hiding ourselves from judgment against the many irrational moral codes out there. For example, some people have accepted th

  • If you don't want people seeing your junk, you don't hang your junk out your trunks when you go to the mall.

    If you don't want people seeing your junk online, don't hang your junk out on myspace where everyone can search for it and see it.

    Instead of government protecting people from the bad decisions they make, how about we let society learn and advance to the point where people understand what the internet is, and how it can be used to benefit, and to harm; and let that awareness grow.

    Just like kids are tau
    • And if you don't want random people tagging you... just go buy an invisibility cloak. You will not be in any photos unless you consent.
    • If you don't want people seeing your junk, you don't hang your junk out your trunks when you go to the mall.

      First of all, human nature dictates that sometimes it's fun to do something that you're not supposed to do. Get a little too drunk, say a little to much, dress a little too funny/provocative/whatever, break a small law here and there, etc. If you live your life as the idealized version of yourself 24/7 and never let loose, well, you are one boring person, and very unusual.

      Secondly, have you never ma

  • Well, we all know how well those "do not call" lists work. I still get those calls (but strangely they hang up when I ask what institute they call for... strange, ain't it?), despite being on "the list".

    But that's not even the problem. The problem is the same as with spam. Normal phone calls and snail spam have a limit to its propagation, it become expensive to do it from abroad. Spam is a different matter, where a national law can't even remotely address the problem, if it's not allowed here, the spam is s
  • by zaguar (881743) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @05:14AM (#19361985)
    If you willingly let yourself get photographed, and someone puts it up on Flickr with your name on it - how can you expect privacy? Same as if you are photographed walking down a street - where is the violation of your privacy?
  • The Problems with Unwanted photo's on the Internet:

    Employers, divorce lawyers and other miscreants just need an excuse to make your life difficult. For example, you happen to be in the same picture with a criminal, then you are automatically tagged and associated with a criminal. Don't under-judge how unfair and unreasonable people can be.

    Associating your face and your name with unwanted adjectives (tags), like let's say "alcoholic". Of course libel law can deal with this, but it is anything but cheap or e
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...with robots.txt [wikipedia.org] but not stop my face being indexed. Something's wrong here.

    To the other posters who say "don't post your pictures online": I never have; never will; never gave permission; yet e.g. Google image search shows several pictures of me posted by people who I've never met. It's briefly flattering when you first find yourself; but I wish the pictures weren't there.
  • This could become a nightmare for those in witness protection. Photo of Mr X in his original town. Automatically recognized and tagged photo of Mr X in town Y, hundreds of miles away.
  • by logicnazi (169418) <logicnaziNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday June 02, 2007 @07:26AM (#19362391) Homepage
    Not only is this suggestion a really bad idea it seems pretty obviously unconstitutional. Rather than giving any serious consideration to the question of whether likenesses of ourselves taken in public deserve protection the paper reads more like something a student would write trying to create an impressive paper. After all everyone realizes that our loss of privacy is a bad thing so lets propose changing the law to fix it, right?

    Sure, our loss of anonymity can have some harmful consequences as the anecdotes in the paper illustrate but this doesn't mean they can't convey important information. I mean on first glance the story about the republican congressman whose daughter was seen kissing another girl on facebook might appear to illustrate a harm of our loss of privacy, and it certainly was a harm to the congressmen, but I would argue it was actually a benefit to society. If that congressman didn't get elected because people found out what he was really like (more tolerant than they suspected) then it was a win for the country.

    Ultimately all this technology does is let us effectively say who did what when. Surely it wouldn't be right or constitutional to ban the news media from telling us about the picture of the congressman's daughter. Nor is it acceptable to outlaw any particular act of saying who is in what picture, that is quite squarely inside the domain of free speech. Yet if free speech protects my right to tag each individual photo then it would be a very troubling precedent to set to say it doesn't protect my right to organize those tags in an accessible way. I mean just think of the problems you would get into just trying to catalog the CSPAN archive to indicate which congressmen were doing what when.

    More generally while the short term effect of a loss of anonymity in public might be immediate harms in the long term we will eventually discover that everyone does stupid shit and crosses sexual and religious lines. Hopefully the ultimate effect of this loss of anonymity will be to eliminate the double standard which allows everyone to say swears, have naughty/kinky sex, and make blasphemous/non-PC remarks but gives any public official caught doing it hell.

    Of course it is scary to lose a protection that has kept us safe for so long but the truth of the matter is that anonymity in public is eroding no matter what we do about it. We can either choose to embrace the good consequences along with the bad by allowing search engines and tagging sites that set up a level playing field for everyone or we can choose a system where those with enough money and lawyers get to keep their anonymity while the rest of society does not. However, that's the worst of all options because it isn't really the loss of anonymity that's harmful but the unequal loss of anonymity. If someone at your office finds pictures of just you getting drunk and doing stupid thats awful, if they can find pictures of a large fraction of the employees it's just amusing.

    --

    Note: purposeful anonymous commentary, e.g., anonymous blogs, are a totally different subject and should be preserved.
    • by Nukenbar (215420)
      Got to love Slashdot where an IANAL can tell the HARVARD (!) Law Review what is unconstitutional.
      • by logicnazi (169418)
        Doesn't matter who I am so long as I'm right. Go ask some constitutional scholars, I bet you they will have grave doubts about the constitutionality. Had this article been a constitutional analysis that would have been one thing but it's more of a policy document than an analysis of the first ammendment. Sure if the loss of obscurity is as problematic as they seem to think it is then maybe SCOTUS will overrule it's 1st ammendment jurisprudence but right now I think any such attempt would be struck down.

        T
    • purposeful anonymous commentary, e.g., anonymous blogs, are a totally different subject and should be preserved.

      This seems somewhat convenient and smells of hypocrisy. Of course it is a different issue. I just find it somewhat ironic that you _purposefully_ conclude with that remark.

      It sticks out like a sore thumb :)
      • by logicnazi (169418)
        Ok to be more clear I think the same *legal* arguments apply to people who want to unmask anonymous bloggers. Indeed if you ferret out who an anonymous blogger is through legal means you should be free to post their identity online, even in a centralized DB if you wish.

        My point was that the COSTS and BENEFITS for purposeful anonymous speech are totally different than the costs and benefits for public but obscure speech. That is I think their are important public goods (bloggers in repressive regimes, anon
  • This is why, in the EU, it is an offence to collect "Personal Data" without consent, except where there is a legal, contractual or public interest reason for collecting and processing the data.

    In addition there are requirements that a data controller has to inform a subject of what the data is to be used for, and to whom it will be given, regardless of whether the subject gave the data or a 3rd party did (except in the case of some law enforcement). The data controller should ensure your personal data is a

  • Only slightly related, but what happened to Riya, the software used to identify faces once a face has at least once been tagged with a name? I think there was an outcry about the potential implications, and then I never heard about it again. Their web site looks like the last time I checked one or two years ago. I'd like to have something like that for my private photo collection locally.

    I know Riya is mentioned in the article, but it doesn't seem to answer my question.
  • The constitution of the United States does not explicitly define privacy as a right. Courts have decided somewhat haphazardly that you have certain expectations of privacy in certain situations (like when you are in your own house with all the doors shut and windows covered). However if you have your photo taken in a public place then you have no right to tell people what t do with that photo. They can tag it, sell it to a tabloid, use it to create a parody of you or just post it everywhere on the net that
  • Don't put pictures of yourself on the Internet if you don't want pictures of yourself on the Internet.

    (And if you do, please, please, don't geotag them.)
  • Degrade into a fat ugly slob. Then no one will want to socialize with you anyway, and those who till do won't want you to be seen with them in any pictures either. So no worries about being posted online.

    Problem solved!

    PS: The above is not really joking... people who worry about this are mentally deranged. I don't need the web to get a photo of you, all I need is a $50 and a lowlife with a camera, I give them your name and address (which I can get from your name) and I'll have a photo of you within a day.

    Th

The meta-Turing test counts a thing as intelligent if it seeks to devise and apply Turing tests to objects of its own creation. -- Lew Mammel, Jr.

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