Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy United States Your Rights Online Politics

Al Franken Calls for Tight Rules on Facial Recognition Software 158

Posted by timothy
from the let's-ask-binney-about-this dept.
angry tapir writes "The U.S. Congress may need to pass legislation that limits the way government agencies and private companies use facial recognition technology to identify people, according to U.S. Senator Al Franken, who chairs the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee's privacy subcommittee. The growing use of facial recognition technology raises serious privacy and civil liberties concerns, according to the senator, who has called on the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and Facebook to change the way they use facial recognition technology." Derrick Harris of GigaOM says "My gut instinct is to call Senator Al Franken a well-meaning fool when it comes to his latest outcry," but concedes that in this case "he actually has a point." Harris writes in an editorial that "If you've heard about Alessandro Acquisti's work with the technology, you know why this possibility should be a little scary. Snap a photo of someone with a smartphone, analyze an image against a database of social media or Flickr pics and, voila, you have a name. From there, it's easy to get someone's age, hometown, interests, news coverage, you name it." Related: judgecorp writes "YouTube has added a tool which automatically detects and anonymises faces in uploaded videos. YouTube parent Google says it is intended to allow dissidents in places like Syria to share videos without risking reprisals form the government — but it warned that this is not an exact science, so users should check videos through before making them public."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Al Franken Calls for Tight Rules on Facial Recognition Software

Comments Filter:
  • Papers Please (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 19, 2012 @10:15AM (#40699013)

    Facial Recognition Software is great because if you leave your "papers" at home they will still be able to identify you.

    In addition, they will also have access to your: personality profile, criminal records, court records, land records, birth certificate, marriage certificate, political contributions, address, phone number, date of birth, and embarrassing photos of you drunk in college.

    • by Bigby (659157)

      I guess the concern is that they can instantly identify your religion. And people fear ethnic/religious/racial cleansing by the government.

    • by Rei (128717) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @11:01AM (#40699761) Homepage

      and embarrassing photos of you drunk in college.

      Meanwhile, In The Future: "I'm sorry, Mr. Davis, but without a picture of you passed out half-naked on a couch while your friends do Jell-O shots off your chest, I can't open this bank account for you."

    • You've clearly never watched Face Off.
    • In addition, they will also have access to your: personality profile, criminal records, court records, land records, birth certificate, marriage certificate, political contributions, address, phone number, date of birth, and embarrassing photos of you drunk in college.

      Slashdot is full of such reactionaries! It is obvious that political contributions, so long as you meet the minimum donation, will remain anonymous.
  • Let's legislation facial recognition technology, ie. you can't tell your friend if you recognize someone. Brilliant.

    More over don't you guys have something else you need to be doing?

    • Yeah, another tired repetition of the don't give me no more regulations platitude. Maybe there's a point in it. But there's also a point that every penny you save is as good as earning one...but let's not go around repeating that platitude any more like its an insight, okay?

      • by Genda (560240)

        You know you're absolutely right... its not like there are any guys out there stalking women, or that someone fresh out on parole for rape charge wouldn't want to be able to find out where that pretty girl he just got a shot of on his cell phone lives. Please engage your brain before opening your mouth. Just because you don't care if everyone on the planet knows where you live and what you do, doesn't mean that we shouldn't be protecting people's privacy for a whole host of good reasons. Most of all, the go

        • by sacdelta (135513)

          Citing criminal behavior as a reason to require more legal restrictions doesn't really work well as a convincing argument. Someone who has decided to engage in a high level crime is not going to think twice about committing a lesser crime in the process.

          That being said, I believe the restrictions would be good to prevent a company from providing that service and making it easy for said criminals.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      More over don't you guys have something else you need to be doing?

      Like writing an app that takes a pic as input, loopks up the relevant data and produces a tailored pickup line + instructions on how to convincingly fake 'common' interests ;)

    • You do realize that this is about federal agencies, right? You know that the reason the cops cannot just commandeer your house is because of a law passed by Congress.
      • You do realize that this is about federal agencies, right? You know that the reason the cops cannot just commandeer your house is because of a law passed by Congress.

        No, that's in the Constitution. Congress has the power to GIVE cops that right, but have chosen not to do so yet.

        • by DarkOx (621550)

          Congress has the power to GIVE cops that right

          No it most certainly does not have the power to do that. Not by any sane reading of the 4th, 9th, and 10th amendments it does not. Don't even suggest those guys have that kind of power, because that just makes them think they do, and we have a lousy SCOTUS bench right now that will knuckle under and go along with it.

        • The constitution is law -- it is the law that governs the government, and it both requires that the government do things and restricts how what the government can do. Congress voted on the bill of rights at the beginning of this nation, and they have voted on changes to the constitution several times since then (in the form of amendments).
  • Ok, let's first get loose of 'omg we are loosing privacy here' attitude and analyze this a bit. First of all, private entities can take video of me in their security cameras. What's difference after this is how they analyze that collected data? What I *need* to know is that companies do that, so I can decide in a case of unusual situation would I render their services or not.

    Government policy is totally different matter and should be crafted into internal documents and practices, not laws. I don't want cops

    • A voting district has a history of supporting a particular party. A rich organization sets up a camera outside the voting building and lets it be known that if anyone votes they will pay for it. Therefore the party that would have gained a number of votes from that district in fact does not. With elections being so close today an election could be won or lost with this technology.
    • by sycodon (149926)

      The bottom line is if you don't want to be seen and recognized somewhere...don't go there.

      • by EdIII (1114411) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @12:08PM (#40700905)

        That line of reasoning applies to private property.

        Public property is a different matter, and government should always be treated differently when it comes to the acquisition and use of information. They have considerably more power than the average person on FaceStupid. It's a rather basic principle in Game Theory.

        If you allow the government to have ubiquitous surveillance in all public areas you have are preventing anybody from exercising their right to simply not be there. Staying inside your house all the time, without considerable subsidies from Mommy(tm), is not possible for a normal person.

        While I cannot stop my friends from putting up pictures with me in it on FaceStupid, and allowing FaceStupid to figure out who I am and then attempt to use that in marketing tactics, I can ask for laws to prevent the government from accessing or using that information.

        Which, by the way, would be extremely prudent. I don't know where you live, but there are plenty of places on this planet where you can be harmed or killed simply because of your beliefs and associations. The best way to prevent that in a so-called advanced society is to have laws and practices which prevent any powerful group from obtaining tools that can be used against the populace in such ways. That is not paranoia either, contrary to the popular claims that it is. There is nothing irrational or delusional about simply remembering history, and even now, just being aware of current events.

        While we are at it, I would *love* a law that prevents FaceStupid from using in any way any data obtained from facial recognition if they don't have a contract with me. My friends can store the information if they so choose, but FaceStupid cannot use it for any other processes other than categorization and display purposes for my friends.

        Of course, I can hear you and others saying that is regulation going to far and it is ridiculous of me to want to control my information once it is out there, etc., etc., etc. However, corporations are not people and should be recognized for having the power that they have along with government.

        It's insane to treat all entities the same when it comes to information regardless of differing levels of power.

    • by chrismcb (983081)
      I had a difficult time parsing your statement, so I'm not really sure what your point is, other than you somehow think this is about video surveillance and no law is needed.
      Do you walk down the street with a name tag on. With your name and address out there for everyone to see? When you walk into a store, do you tell them who you are, who you work for, and how much money you have in the bank? If you don't why not?
      Is it perhaps because the random person you will deal with at the store/business/whatever d
  • Slippery Slope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bigby (659157) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @10:17AM (#40699057)

    Technology is too good! We need to outlaw it!

    This is another case if outlawing technology. Someone can look at a person, compare them to a lineup of photos, and then look them up in a phonebook and call them. But because a computer can do it so much better and so much quicker, we are scared and feel the need to censor progress. What about the freedom to take photos? The freedom to process photos?

    I can only imagine that when someone invents teleportation, it will be outlawed and the designs burned and the inventor executed, because of the fear that 75% of the population will lose their jobs.

    When are we going to accept change and take steps to live within that world? If you are so afraid of it, then stop putting your photo online? If you are a celebrity, then too bad.

    I do agree that the government shouldn't be monitoring without a warrant though. Just like they aren't supposed to before technology.

    • by Qzukk (229616)

      I can only imagine that when someone invents teleportation, it will be outlawed and the designs burned and the inventor executed, because of the fear that 75% of the population will lose their jobs.

      Eh, losing jobs only gets half the population riled up. Who's going to bother?

      The guy would be executed and the plans burned because someone somewhere might teleport into an elementary school girl's restroom.

      • "The guy would be executed and the plans burned because someone somewhere might teleport into an elementary school girl's restroom."

        and hopefully about 7 seconds later (depending on how quick the little angels are with the panic buttons) a Female Leo will TP in and smack him silly (and then tp him into a jail cell).

    • Technology is too good! We need to outlaw it!

      I think it's more along the lines of "technology is very powerful and often allows us to carry out our wildest dreams -- no matter how bad or good they are." I don't think he's pushing for outlawing it altogether but just regulating it. Examples I can think of include when we know a corporation is using it to, say, profile customers who visit public stores and shop in certain sections (without explicit consent) or say that the Church of Scientology decides to use it at protests. Is it wrong to regulate that kind of usage of it? Actually can you please explain where Franken said we need to "outlaw it"? Because you seem to be pushing this to an extreme to invalidate his point.

      This is another case if outlawing technology. Someone can look at a person, compare them to a lineup of photos, and then look them up in a phonebook and call them. But because a computer can do it so much better and so much quicker, we are scared and feel the need to censor progress. What about the freedom to take photos? The freedom to process photos?

      I can only imagine that when someone invents teleportation, it will be outlawed and the designs burned and the inventor executed, because of the fear that 75% of the population will lose their jobs.

      Technology is powerful, there's no way to argue with that. Look at the evolution of guns. Look at the advent of the Maxim gun. Do you think that the laws at the time covered cases where people start stockpiling automatic weapons? Technology has the power to enable to the user past their original abilities and as such, yes, we do find ourselves forced to regulate certain extremes. You can only imagine that the designs would be burned and inventor executed because that's what Al Franken is proposing we do to facial recognition? Try not to hyperbole on your way to the parking lot. We wouldn't outlaw teleportation used for transportation of goods and services, hell, why do you think we built the interstate highway system!? We would outlaw the use of teleporation to rob your neighbor's home or banks!

      When are we going to accept change and take steps to live within that world? If you are so afraid of it, then stop putting your photo online? If you are a celebrity, then too bad.

      I do agree that the government shouldn't be monitoring without a warrant though. Just like they aren't supposed to before technology.

      Yep, it's okay that this hurts everyone else right up until Big Brother and Evil Corp are using it to track/profile/target you and your family. Then I'll bet you'll come around to Al Franken's regulation of this technology in both private corporation and government sectors.

      • by readin (838620)
        Excellent point about the automatic weapons. The 2nd amendment was written when there were no rapid fire guns, no hand grenades, and no nuclear weapons.

        As for this facial recognition policy, I think it goes against a fundamental freedom to "move on". If I want to pick up and leave - go somewhere and start over, a very American inclination - I can't do that if people can find me wherever I go by using facial recognition combined with scanning crowds. Imagine the implications of this technology for the
    • by russotto (537200)

      I can only imagine that when someone invents teleportation, it will be outlawed and the designs burned and the inventor executed, because of the fear that 75% of the population will lose their jobs.

      No, it'll be outlawed because it will make smuggling easy and borders irrelevant.

    • by roman_mir (125474)

      Yeah, and never mind that the government agencies have had this type of functionality for the longest time, that's what the police and FBI use to try and catch suspects.

      But if you are a private individual or a company with the same type of technology, all of a sudden you are too dangerous.

      Al Franken needs to read this book [bastiat.org] and learn something, specifically that if something is illegal for an individual to do, the government must not be allowed to do it either.

      • by Genda (560240)

        Did you somehow miss the point that he was particularly talking about restricting this behavior from the government and corporations? It would appear, he already read your book. And listened.

    • Technology is too good! We need to outlaw it!

      This is another case if outlawing technology. Someone can look at a person, compare them to a lineup of photos, and then look them up in a phonebook and call them. But because a computer can do it so much better and so much quicker, we are scared and feel the need to censor progress. What about the freedom to take photos? The freedom to process photos?

      I can only imagine that when someone invents teleportation, it will be outlawed and the designs burned and the inventor executed, because of the fear that 75% of the population will lose their jobs.

      When are we going to accept change and take steps to live within that world? If you are so afraid of it, then stop putting your photo online? If you are a celebrity, then too bad.

      I do agree that the government shouldn't be monitoring without a warrant though. Just like they aren't supposed to before technology.

      Yes, just look at the chilling effects Luddites have had on cars through traffic laws! Someone can walk down a street and run into people and bludgeon them to death with their bodies, but because a car can do it so much better and so much quicker, we are scared and feel the need to censor progress. What about freedom to travel?

      • by idontgno (624372)

        Someone can walk down a street and run into people and bludgeon them to death with their bodies, but because a car can do it so much better and so much quicker, we are scared and feel the need to censor progress. What about freedom to travel?

        I know, right? Our FSM-given right to travel is being TRAMPLED by that pointless prohibition. If you don't like the way I drive, get off the sidewalk!

    • Likewise I shouldn't have to give up my privacy because I'm in someone's photo. Facial recognition in itself is fine but as more people's information gets put online it'll be easier to take more of people's information without them even knowing it and it could be used to control people's access to the intenet by killing off anonymous usage. Those things should concern people
    • Snap a photo of someone with a smartphone, analyze an image against a database of social media or Flickr pics and, voila, you have a name. From there, it's easy to get someone's age, hometown, interests, news coverage, you name it.

      I was going to post a criminal use-case for your humiliation, but if it's not as obvious as I think, I'm not going to inform would-be criminals. This is only made possible by the ability to identify random people on demand. I'm sure there are many other nefarious uses.

    • Re:Slippery Slope (Score:4, Insightful)

      by EdIII (1114411) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @12:22PM (#40701129)

      It's not censoring progress, nor is it taking away the freedom to take photos, or process photos.

      It's rather simple. Only fucking human beings can enjoy freedom .

      Corporations and Governments are not human beings, and therefore should not be entitled to any sort of basic human rights.

      This is only prudent as well. Look up Game Theory. It's very clear that while all entities may possess the same information, that the more powerful entities can do more with it. You would think that would be common sense, but it is quite often overlooked, just as you are doing now.

      I'm sorry, but it is batshit insane crazy to have an argument about laws being applied to corporations and government and then to bring up rights and freedoms being abridged through the creation of laws and regulations upon them. They're corporations and governments. We might as well get upset that a toaster oven does not have the freedom of speech.

      I'm perfectly okay with you, as a human being, taking a photo of me along with hundreds of other people in a crowded public space. If you want to use advanced technology and tag me with an identity, that's your prerogative too.

      In the end though, you are just Bigby. What the heck are you going to man? You don't have massive resources at your disposal. You don't have the abilities of law enforcement to forcibly detain me. You really can't do all that much.

      Do you really think FaceStupid and Law Enforcement is as powerful as you, or more powerful? Do you think they could do more with that information, or less?

      Just think about it. It's not irrational to want laws to apply to just corporations and governments to preserve privacy and anonymity, when those two together are the single greatest tools we have to defend ourselves against a corrupt tyrannical regime like Syria, Libya, Burma, East Germany, etc., etc., etc., etc.,

    • This is another case if outlawing technology.

      (Presumably, you mean "of" rather than "if".)

      No, its not. Its a discussion about regulating the conditions in and purposes for which entities, including the government, can use a particular technology It is not about outlawing technology, any more than speed limits, drunk driving laws, and driver's license requirements are the about outlawing automobiles.

      When are we going to accept change and take steps to live within that world?

      Discussing whether there is a nee

    • Technology is too good! We need to outlaw it!

      All bad side-effects of technology can be defeated by different technology.

      Facial-recognition software, for example, can be defeated by Burqa technology, invented by Muslims ages ago!

  • Being horrible with names it would be handy to have an augmented reality glasses at a party to remind me who I'm talking to, what their interests are, plus I think it would be helpful for others to know me also. Of course it will eventually be used so salespersons know what your tastes are and what to push.

    • by Christoph (17845)

      I would be willing to "opt in". Anyone else who opts-in (allowing me to know their basic info on sight) can also know mine.

      I would be OK with a stranger approaching me to ask for help/to discuss something I have experience in. Others might know to not to bother me (maybe put "no solicitors" in my basic info).

      The only obvious downside, to me, would be if others know my basic personal info, and I don't know that they know it, and I do not know theirs.

    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      "Being horrible with names ..."

      No, you're not. You're horrible with faces, everybody looks the same to you.
      This technology was invented specifically for you.

      • Very few people are horrible with faces. Imagine all the unique faces you have seen in your life. Its the face-to-name connection that people sometimes have a hard time with. Quite honestly, i usually forget people's name right after i meet them unless they are very interesting. Even hot women's names drop from memory almost immediately unless they are smart too.

        My father-in-law had a stroke and it broke his facial recognition. His wife could walk up to him and if she didnt speak, he would have a hard ti
  • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @10:20AM (#40699139) Journal

    On one hand, I get concerned anytime someone wants to regulate a new technology. There is no immediate safety issue or security issue, so my initial reaction to a congresscritter wanting to dictate its usage is negative. Society has adapted to and will continue to adapt to advances in technology, so I don't see the benefit in creating a set of rules and procedures around the appropriate use of the technology.

    On the other hand, we certainly see an erosion of privacy in ways that we cou;dn't have imagined a few decades ago. So much of our lives are online, but it is very easy to opt out of Facebook or Google+ (those 12 of us who are part of it). But if this network extends into "real life" and can be married up to financial accounts and transactions made on credit card or debit cards, the mind boggles at the possibilites.

    The real issue in my mind is who this information belongs to. Is information about my purchase owned by me, by the party I do business with, the credit card company, all of the above? Should there be limitations in place on how this information gets shared? How in the world do you enforce a set of rules like this?

    And if you've been keeping score, I provided zero answers to any of the questions I raise. I don't have any to be honest. But yes, this is a weighty decision, but likely one that is long overdue.

    • On one hand, I get concerned anytime someone wants to regulate a new technology.

      While this is admittedly troublesome, I'm more worried by attempts to require new technology. For example, what if a a law passes that requires everybody to get a Facebook account as a form of dgiital identification? Or what if the only way you can pay your taxes would be by downloading an official tax app? Or that every baby now has to be implanted with an RFID tag? That would be more terrifying than any law that bans (regulate

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ffflala (793437)

      . So much of our lives are online, but it is very easy to opt out of Facebook or Google+

      Well, not really. Facebook at least almost certainly has a fairly detailed data profile on you already, regardless of whether you have an account. Real-life example: I set up a facebook account using a pseudonym, and have never disclosed any of the following info: my real name, my hometown, my birth date, the various cities I've lived in, schools attended. I've occasionally polluted my profile with false tags and information.

      Unfortunately, I have a well-meaning, clueless aunt. Years ago, without my permis

      • by Genda (560240)

        Its even worse. If you didn't opt to have Google delete your history recently, they have every search you've ever done, every item you stored in Google Docs, Every email sent through Gmail. Their terms and agreements allows them to scan and extract all useful information from everything they touch, and that means everything you've bought through Gmail, all your friends and family through your correspondences, a dossier of information that makes what the IRS, FBI, and CIA combined, look like a supermarket th

    • You are wrong on the 'in ways we couldnt have imagined' Sci-fi covered this ground half a century ago.
  • What's the lower tech precedent for these rules? I'm not saying they must exist, I just want to be able to contextualize the concern.

    • I'm not sure there can be one. The concern that is being raise is the shear number of cameras in public spaces, combined with accurate location and direction info, combined with facial recognition. I could imagine a world where, if enough people had their device set to 'upload and share everything I see' you could track someone from the moment they left their house in the morning until they moment they arrived home at night. All using publicly available images taken from public property but the general p

      • by DarkOx (621550)

        you could track someone from the moment they left their house in the morning until they moment they arrived home at night

        Which government could do before if they were interested enough to pay a cop to follow you.

        The real issue here is now they can track *everyone* from the moment they left their house in the morning until they moment they arrived home at night. Suddenly there is no variable cost associate with tracking everyone. The result no incentive to not track everyone. They question is do we want to live in a society where, we track everyone. I really think the answer to that is "no" and its going to happen if we d

  • by Sloppy (14984) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @10:24AM (#40699187) Homepage Journal

    Genies don't go back into bottles.

    And you can't regulate thought, even if some people are virtual cyborgs who do some of their thinking outside of their own bodies. If I already have the capacity to recognizes faces, there's nothing really all that bad about me getting a thousand times better at it. People's memory of having seen others, is already a "privacy concern", whether they are computer aided or not, but it's a realtively unimportant concern compared to others, and we're just quibbling about scale.

    It's also bizarre prioritizing. Mass surveillance is working because We The People ultimately have no real problem with the basic idea of it, we have decided we'd rather not require warrants, and stuff like that. Why should we concentrate on one detail for how people are being tracked (faces), when we don't care about any of the others (license plates on cars, people carrying active transmitters of unique ids, etc)? We should change our mind and decide that we want privacy, before we start arguing about specific techs.

    • " Mass surveillance is working because We The People ultimately have no real problem with the basic idea of it..."

      Who is this "we" you speak of? I have a huge problem with mass surveillance.

    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday July 19, 2012 @10:44AM (#40699513) Homepage

      I don't agree. Mass surveillance is working because most of us aren't very aware that it's going on. When people do notice it's going on and they have a problem with it, they don't have any way to do anything about it.

      In my mind, I think the problem is more generalized than just being about facial recognition. When the United States was founded, they included the Bill or Rights to protect citizens from government intrusion, which I believe was a good idea. But with technology, the freedom against unreasonable searches becomes more complicated. Is wiretapping a search? Is it a search to put a tracker on someone to keep track of their whereabouts? If the government can include cameras and microphones and other sensors everywhere, and they can track everywhere you go, everything you say, and everything you do, is that a "search"?

      I think the government should certainly regulate how they can collect this kind of information. It's not an issue of putting the genie back in the bottle. We have rules about when law enforcement uses wiretapping. That's technology too, it's just older and so you're used to there being rules. In the same way, we should have rules about when they can use facial recognition or GPS trackers.

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        It's not an issue of putting the genie back in the bottle. We have rules about when law enforcement uses wiretapping.

        I'd agree with your argument if I believed that law enforcement was following those rules. What evidence us members of the public have strongly suggests that (A) law enforcement routinely wiretaps all Internet and probably phone communications within the United States, and (B) charges with espionage those who tell the public about that.

        One reason mass surveillance is working is that a lot of people think it's just targeting somebody else (e.g. Arab-American Muslims) rather than targeting them. Of course, "f

    • I'm pretty uncomfortable with most aspects of mass surveillance, but that's mostly because of the disparity between the power the state has and what a citizen has, and also the Intrusiveness that's frequently involved, but facial recognition doesn't seem to be the same.

      For one, these recordings are in public, where there can't be any expectations of privacy or anonymity, and secondly this is really little different from passing 'round a photo of someone and asking if they recognise the subject. That

    • If the cops can tail you without a license, then why shouldn't they be able to track you with GPS. And if they can track you with GPS, why shouldn't they be able to track everyone? Sometimes the scale of something matters. Being able to recognize me when you see me on the street or on a facebook post is a little different from being able to find every single publicly available picture that I've ever been in.

      • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @11:30AM (#40700263)

        If the cops can tail you without a license, then why shouldn't they be able to track you with GPS. And if they can track you with GPS, why shouldn't they be able to track everyone? Sometimes the scale of something matters. Being able to recognize me when you see me on the street or on a facebook post is a little different from being able to find every single publicly available picture that I've ever been in.

        A large contingent of Slashdot posters has always struggled to think of a concept in between the extremes. I think that's why Ayn Rand is so popular around here.

      • by s.petry (762400)

        You are using a very irrational method of justifying the use of the software in my opinion. The concern is obviously not with just people in Law enforcement, and tracking someone is not very similar to a Cop following you for a mile or two down the road. I have no problems personally with a Cop following me, it's their job to look for criminals. Again, this is not an issue of a Cop following you down the street.

        Because you either avoid or have not thought about the issue let me give you a hypothetical.

    • by s.petry (762400)

      Claiming people don't care when they are intentionally being left in the dark is a horrible way of backing your statement. The majority don't know that they are being tracked constantly, and not just big brother but private companies collecting and selling your tracking data.

      I think most people take no issues with something like OnStar, where the system can track you when you wish to be tracked. Most people would definitely take issue if they knew that nearly anyone could pay to not only find out where th

    • by Genda (560240)

      One interesting possibility, once machines like Watson coalesce into something resembling a functional intelligence, we can task them with keeping our privacy from other human beings. Since most of the stupid stuff would be done by other human beings, we can say to the machine, only pop someone out of anonymity if there is a greater than 95% probability that they are committing a violent crime. That way, for the rest of us folks, though we live in a transparent society, idiot corporations and governments ca

  • Just get a scramble suit from scanner darkly.

  • I don't think Franken is a well-meaning fool. If there aren't already rules on how the government uses facial recognition tech, there should be.

    Just to give a dystopian example, what if the government hooked up cameras everywhere (we already have traffic cameras, cameras in ATMs, security cameras in public buildings), and then tied them all into a computer system that recognized everyone's faces and kept track of your whereabouts?

  • by Cid Highwind (9258) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @10:31AM (#40699295) Homepage

    Snap a photo of someone with a smartphone, analyze an image against a database of social media or Flickr pics and, voila, you have a name. From there, it's easy to get someone's age, hometown, interests, news coverage, you name it."

    Interesting tech, and more than a little bit scary. However, I don't think that congress passing a law restricting it is going to slow our march toward cyberpunk dystopia one bit. In the post-9/11 security state, it's an absolute certainty that the three-letter agencies will continue to develop and use face recognition, and pretty much a given that soon afterward local cops will be using their hand-me-downs on routine drug cases (just like GPS trackers and smartphone data loggers). Businesses big enough to have offshore tax shelters will just build offshore data-processing shelters, streaming images from their front door cameras to foreign locales to be analyzed by restricted facial-recognition algorithms and customer profiles back in real time. In the end this would only bite individuals and small businesses (much like our allegedly-high taxes).

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @10:38AM (#40699425)

    I create a high-speed facial recognition camera and sell a network of my devices set up along highways and major streets. I can with good accuracy identify people based on social media and I can track roughly the travel of millions of citizens a day. I can even quickly install temporary cameras around "problem areas." Now, the government probably can't buy this system, but they can license access to my database the same way the government has been licensing access to Total Information Awareness data mining databases from the private sector. Still don't see a problem?

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      C'mon people, let's be a little more creative! How about running facial recognition on uploaded amateur pr0n, and locating nearby individuals who share your "interests"?
    • by Xibby (232218)

      My thought was protest groups, rally groups, etc. Run photos of the group through facial recognition and bam, instant list of supporters of whatever cause. On the good side, hate groups might be less likely to voice their opinions in public if someone were to photograph them, run facial recognition, and post the results online, or members could be publicly shunned, denied services, jobs, etc. On the flip side the same could happen for worthy causes, sparking more issues between opposing groups. And how many

      • "On the good side, hate groups might be less likely to voice their opinions in public if someone were to photograph them"
        It scares me that you think silencing speech you have classified as hate is acceptable.
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases [wikipedia.org]. So Kudos to Mr. Harris for seeing beyond this.

  • by Jawnn (445279) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @11:12AM (#40699945)
    Regulation is bad. Right? The free market will take care of everything, including our privacy. Right? RIGHT?
    • Which is more open and transparent -- the free market, with all its flaws, or the Federal Government, with all its self-proclaimed good intentions? Personally, I don't trust either one. We have to be vigilant of both.
      • by Thuktun (221615)

        Who's vigilant of the free market other than government regulators?

        Misdeeds done at the corporate level (c.f. Enron [wikipedia.org]) generally only come to light through governmental regulatory investigations, since companies can tell you to sod off. The government reports to the people and we have a number of tools to ferret out misdeeds within government. Government also investigates itself regularly.

        • I agree. We need government regulation and oversight of companies. But let's not make the mistake of thinking government is more or less trustworthy than corporations. The government needs to be transparent in order to be effective. What happens now is "regulation" == "licensing and red tape," not really oversight. Also let's not forget that corporations own our politicians. As I said, I trust neither of them.
      • by Jawnn (445279)

        Which is more open and transparent -- the free market, with all its flaws, or the Federal Government, with all its self-proclaimed good intentions? Personally, I don't trust either one. We have to be vigilant of both.

        You presume an "open and transparent" market. This is a common mistake. The mythical free market presumes that consumers have all the information they need to make the right choices. It also presumes that the barriers to entry are inconsequential for would be vendors in that market. Neither is ever true in most cases. Therefore, the "vigilance" that correctly demand, may only be practically maintained by an entity possessed of the necessary information and the expertise to analyze it. That means a governme

        • I do not presume any such thing. I asked a question and you read your own biases and presumptions into it. I do take issue with YOUR presumption that government has the necessary information and expertise to analyze corporate doings. I think you probably overestimate the ability of government and underestimate those of the free market, but as I said, but which you will probably again ignore, we need government regulation and oversight of companies.
  • ... is government regulation of corporate spying -- because in the end corporations and government will collude to spy on everyone else. Only the rich will be able to afford to know what's really going on.
  • A lot of people, and even more sadly a lot of politicians, don't realize that laws need to be updated to account for changes in technology. Often old laws rely on the technological limitations of the time when they were made, and new technologies shouldn't be allowed to effecively do an end-run around the spirit of the law. Privacy is often a casualty of these situations.

    • Almost all law should have a sunset clause with review after X number of years. The law is a living thing, not 'THE LAW IS THE LAW"
  • this is a paradoxical time: we've all become used to the mostly-anonymous nature of living in large cities. we confused this sense of "freedom from recognition" with privacy, though. they're very much not the same things. privacy never applied to what you do in public, even if it sorta felt that way because no one knew who you were. if you drive somewhere away from your usual circles in order to buy drugs or dildos, it used to be low probability that someone would recognize you. a PI might still tail y

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard

Working...