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Facebook Disables Face Recognition In EU 96

Posted by Soulskill
from the privacy-on-demand dept.
SquarePixel writes "Facebook has disabled face recognition features on its site for all new European users. The move follows privacy recommendations made by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner. Tag Suggest information has been turned off for new users, and Facebook plans to delete the information for existing EU users by October 15th. 'The DPC says today’s report (PDF) is the result of evaluations it made through the first half of 2012 and on-site at Facebook’s HQ in Dublin over the course of two days in May and four in July. The DPC says FB has made just about all of the improvements it requested in five key areas: better transparency for the user in how their data is handled; user control over settings; more clarity on the retention periods for the deletion of personal data, and users getting more control over deleting things; an improvement in how users can access their personal data; and the ability of Facebook to be able to better track how they are complying with data protection requirements.'"
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Facebook Disables Face Recognition In EU

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  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday September 21, 2012 @03:09PM (#41414221) Journal

    Other countries should get a clue before they lose what privacy they have left. It's not an obsolete concept just because the execs of the companies that stand to profit most from your personal info say so. Facial recognition technology is one of the biggest threats to privacy.

    • by PieLala (2736201)
      Exactly. Google also has European headquarters in Dublin and I expect them to be next on list. Google has been abusing Europeans privacy for too long.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 21, 2012 @03:17PM (#41414317)

      Other countries should get a clue before they lose what privacy they have left. It's not an obsolete concept just because the execs of the companies that stand to profit most from your personal info say so. Facial recognition technology is one of the biggest threats to privacy.

      So... all of the US Facebook account DO have the face recognition tech running non-stop? That's good to know.
      Facebook doesn't exactly announce all of the crap they do to fuck with your privacy. Slashdot is one of the places that keeps me informed.

      • by Lennie (16154)

        Yes and they check the faces against a database supplied by the US-authorities.

        But I believe the image services of Yahoo, Bing and Google do the same.

    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday September 21, 2012 @03:18PM (#41414329)

      Other countries should get a clue before they lose what privacy they have left.

      Yet in many EU countries it is illegal to walk down the street if you shield your face from public view.

      As an American, I think holding the EU up as a model for personal freedom is ridiculous.

      • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday September 21, 2012 @03:33PM (#41414491) Journal

        Good thing [justia.com] the US [thinkprogress.org] has no such laws [anapsid.org]

      • Can you list these countries? I call bullshit.
        • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday September 21, 2012 @03:54PM (#41414677)

          Can you list these countries? I call bullshit.

          Obscuring your face in public is illegal in France [wikipedia.org] and Belgium [wikipedia.org]. In some other countries, including Italy and Spain, there is no national law, but it is illegal in many localities.

          • It's not illegal in Belgium, Italy or Spain.

            What you meant by 'many EU countries' was in fact France.
            • It's not illegal in Belgium

              Yes it is. Please read the link I provided, or you can use Google to find hundreds of other references.

              Italy or Spain.

              Italy and Spain have local bans. For instance, obscuring your face in public is illegal in Barcelona [reuters.com].

              • by Svippy (876087) on Friday September 21, 2012 @04:36PM (#41415135) Homepage

                It's not illegal in Belgium

                Yes it is. Please read the link I provided, or you can use Google to find hundreds of other references.

                It was a ban on burkas [bbc.co.uk]. Yes, it's ridiculous, but it is not illegal to wear masks in Belgium. It was a ban on religious clothing that obscures a face, particularly forced upon women. But the amount of burkas used in Belgium is probably at a minimum.

                Italy or Spain.

                Italy and Spain have local bans. For instance, obscuring your face in public is illegal in Barcelona [reuters.com].

                Actually, it's only illegal in public buildings, such as markets and libraries, which your link itself lists quite clearly. You can still walk outside while having your face obscured.

                So basically, your "many EU countries" is "France". Belgium's law will likely have little consequence, and it seems that the Barcelona law is a protection of public buildings. Not that Turkey is the pedestal of civil rights, but they also had a similar ban as Barcelona (until at least very recently).

                Denmark also have a ban on masks, but only during demonstrations and other large crowds. The usual freedom was previously abused heavily by activists to destroy property rather than actual demonstrate. The rationale is that if you are really interested in your message, you will have no issue showing your face at a public demonstration.

                But most of these laws seems to be a form of Islamophobia than an actual crackdown on civil liberties, which seems to be collateral damage. There was even talk about banning burkas in Denmark, until politicians realised only 5 people in the whole country wore them, and they were ethnic Danes who had converted to Islam. The cases might even be similar in most other EU countries. Like the Swiss ban on Minarets. Ridiculous.

            • by Threni (635302)

              Heh. I live in the next country along to France, and I find that any French-related difficulties I might be concerned with can be avoided completely by simply not going to France!

          • by pmontra (738736)
            There is a national law about that in Italy. Link in Italian [wikipedia.org], automatic translation of the relevant excerpt: Law 533/1977, article 2 "prohibits the use of helmets and other items which are likely to make in whole or in part unrecognizable citizens participating in public events carried on in public or in a place open to the public;" (I won't do much better, that's law-speak). That's aimed at some kind of political/violent events, not at Carnival :-)
      • by WaZiX (766733) on Friday September 21, 2012 @03:44PM (#41414587)

        Yet in many EU countries it is illegal to walk down the street if you shield your face from public view.

        As an American, I think holding the EU up as a model for personal freedom is ridiculous.

        Well, don't know about personal freedom (although having lived both in the US and Europe, I feet more free in Europe), but on the internet privacy topic there are good things coming from the EU. Not taking those good things as a model would be kind of stupid... Just like judging the whole topic of personal freedom on a single law is kind of stupid.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        In the Urinated States of America, Pi is 3 and one (France? yes, no-one doubts that France is having a bit of a freedom crisis at the moment) is many.

        Explains corporation law, anyway.

        Meanwhile, in the "freedom from religion" US, Judeo-Christian law means you will get arrested for walking around on a beach showing the tits that "God" gave you - not to mention the unholy penis and the dirty, dirty vagina. Or have you become so indocrinated that you think there is some objective, secular reason why a guy/girl

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It is illegal to wear a mask in Cleveland, Ohio. (perhaps only in a parade, or mass gathering, etc) This law was passed to prevent the KKK from holding rallies there and being able to hide.

      • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Friday September 21, 2012 @04:27PM (#41414995)

        The EU isn't about personal freedom. On the spectrum of 'liberty equality and brotherhood' (liberte, egalite fraternite) europe and canada have landed on the side of Equality before the others, the US 'liberty' first, and China and Japan are more in the 'brotherhood' as in service to the country first.

        As an American, I think holding the EU up as a model for personal freedom is ridiculous.

        As a canadian I think holding up the united states a model of anything worth emulating is ridiculous. About the only thing you can say you do better than we do is bomb people, and half the time that does more harm than good.

        See the problem? We all look at the primary responsibility of the role of government and the people differently. So we don't try and emulate each other, we should steal good ideas as they come up, and reject bad ones. The EU is trying to bottle up facebooks privacy invasion service, that's good. They supported the americans in torturing people, that's bad, but they're coming around to prosecuting that, which is good. The US has a relatively large federal government, in a single currency, the EU has almost no 'federal' government and a hodge podge of currencies but the Euro area is a single currency without a state, you can guess which is working better based on what is happening in Spain, Italy, and Greece.

        We also have recognize where our situations are different. Police in England don't carry guns, but there's also a lot less gun crime in england than in the US, so following the US model would be bad, and the US following the UK model wouldn't work either (unless you could magically make millions of guns appear or disappear of course).

      • "Yet in many EU countries it is illegal to walk down the street if you shield your face from public view."

        Quite apart from the fact that this is manifestly a case of an American making up bullshit to feel better about the fact that he doesn't live in Europe, precisely why do you think that not being allowed to walk down a French street with a balaclava is infringing on your personal freedoms? Don't you think that your personal freedoms should to be balanced against the freedom of others to not be intimi
      • by nospam007 (722110) *

        "Yet in many EU countries it is illegal to walk down the street if you shield your face from public view.
        As an American, I think holding the EU up as a model for personal freedom is ridiculous."

        I suggest you try walking up and down in front of a bank in the US wearing a balaclava.

      • Yet in many EU countries it is illegal to walk down the street if you shield your face from public view.
        Who told you that nonsense?

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Friday September 21, 2012 @03:10PM (#41414235) Journal

    Ok, Europe's solved a relatively minor problem hostorically -- evil corporations tracking you.

    Now you need to tackle the other 99.99% of the historical problem, billions-of-needless-deathswise, and stop government from facial recognition, and license plate recognition, and so on and automated assembly into tracking databases.

    • by Aqualung812 (959532) on Friday September 21, 2012 @03:21PM (#41414373)

      My thoughts exactly. I really don't care about a big evil corporation knowing where I've been, my religion, what I weigh, who I have sex with, etc. If anything, the more they know about me, the more likely that they will make products I want to buy.

      However, the government knowing all of those things is actually something to be concerned about.

      I think it is quite a marketing feat by the EU: Make it appear that they are strong defenders of privacy by being ruthless in protecting the privacy of consumers, while implementing far worse privacy breaches on their own citizens.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        If anything, the more they know about me, the more likely that they will make products I want to buy.

        The more they know about you, the more they can manipulate you to create wants you never had before.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I really don't care about a big evil corporation knowing where I've been, my religion, what I weigh, who I have sex with, etc. If anything, the more they know about me, the more likely that they will make products I want to buy.

        However, the government knowing all of those things is actually something to be concerned about.

        Funny, my view is the exact opposite. I'm shocked if I lose a private document and the government archives don't have a backup. On the other hand, I'm endlessly annoyed by all kinds of merchants trying to get under my skin all the time.

        My government is not out to get me. The corporations are.

      • by fa2k (881632)

        My thoughts exactly. I really don't care about a big evil corporation knowing where I've been, my religion, what I weigh, who I have sex with, etc. If anything, the more they know about me, the more likely that they will make products I want to buy.

        However, the government knowing all of those things is actually something to be concerned about.

        The biggest problems seem to be 1) disclosure of information and 2) malicious action based on the information. In a democratic society, both companies and government have to follow the law, and there are serious repercussions if they don't.

        The potential for (1) is about the same for both, but the actions in (2) are worse for the government: they can put you in jail, while the worst thing companies can do is to collude to raise prices just for you or deny you some service. We're not discussing the actions, h

      • by being ruthless in protecting the privacy of consumers, while implementing far worse privacy breaches on their own citizens.
        Care to point some out?
        Seems you are better informed than me, which privacy breaches are the european governments planning?

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Friday September 21, 2012 @03:11PM (#41414255) Homepage

    I just logged in to Facebook and changed my home to Dublin, Ireland.

    • In all seriousness, is there a possible way that this could be used to gain some advantage to protect privacy for U.S. users? If I logged into Facebook and changed my location would that work? I'd assume there were additional steps/measures necessary. Finding the balance between the use of the service and minimizing yourself as the "product" is challenging.
      • by Bob9113 (14996)

        If I logged into Facebook and changed my location would that work?

        In theory, it should. They could use IP geolocation, but that would be pretty noisy and probably would not satisfy the regulators. If you are a Dubliner on a business trip overseas or using a VPN through another continent, do you lose your legal protections?

        Regardless, though, suppose a few hundred thousand people log in and do this over the next few days. Even if it doesn't foil this lens of the panopticon directly, it does send a pretty str

  • The article isn't very clear about this either.

  • by cristiroma (606375) on Friday September 21, 2012 @03:27PM (#41414441)
    Excuse my ignorance, but I don't have have myself an Facebook account. What is exactly good for? I don't chat, I usually prefer to talk to friends over a beer. I share pictures over Picasa. So what value would an Facebook account add for someone? Thank you.
    • A social life.

      It's fine and dandy to rebel against it, but like it or not Facebook provides a service (centralizing communication, sharing and event planing) and all they charge is your consent to farm your information. Failing to recognize Facebook's utilities in a sorry attempt at wit doesn't make you cool - it makes you a hipster.

      I don't like facebook, I don't have an account. But seriously - Facebook is good for people who want social interaction at the expense of privacy. No more, no less.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        A social life.

        ... because it's clearly not possible to have a social life without using Facebook, I guess?

      • If you don't have, never had an account on facebook, you don't know hoe facebook works.
        That alone makes your point invalid ... and you are wrong anyway.
        Hint: I have some friends on facebook.
        I publish a foto from a party in a pub.
        You are on that foto.
        Everyone who knows you gets a message: new photo with SilentStaid published. (Your girlfriend assumed you where at your parents at that time, did she not?)
        I for my part did not sign for that when I 'joined' facebook.

    • The big one for me is events. Friends set up events on facebook and also music gigs, etc. Brilliant way of tracking them. I even have it linked into google calendar with all my other items I need to track like college timetable, etc. Its light years better than when I had to read through newspapers and stuff to find out when things were on, or had to ring a load of people to set up a night out or whatever.
  • Now just wait for Google Image to recognize what's on pictures...
  • by dryriver (1010635) on Friday September 21, 2012 @03:41PM (#41414571)
    Assange called Facebook "The most abominable spying-machine created in all of human history". I'm inclined to think that he was right about that, since U.S. 3 letter agencies seem to have bought special software that crawls sites like Facebook to collect as much data/information about each person as possible. -------- The EU did the right thing here. Suckerberg can't be trusted with anybody's privacy. -------- Now if only I could live to see the day when people voluntarily delete their profiles off Facebook, and use alternate services that aren't as intrusive...
    • What alternatives? Google+ isn't a viable option, email wouldn't be private as there was an earlier article about law enforcement bemoaning the requirement of a warrant to gain access to email. Almost any electronic medium is going to compromise privacy. What would Slash Dot readers suggest as a reasonable balance between privacy and the congregation of my friends. A tight tin-foil hat isn't necessary, as some of it could be considered "public" data, but I don't want to make myself too easy to be harves
    • by vlueboy (1799360)

      People just fade out of systems when something better comes along. I think the majority of those that actively delete their profiles on their way out do have things that they do not want misused. You may ascribe that to being slashdot geeks who wised up, or to having had trouble that showed them real life drama follows facebook activity or whatever. But it takes a pretty strong force stopping the inertia of convenience and addiction they are enjoying there. Even closing my slashdot account and being prevent

  • by BlueCoder (223005) on Friday September 21, 2012 @04:16PM (#41414875)

    We have the right to record things in public. That means we can freely follow and track other people. Pretty soon everyone with be walking around with a camera on their person. The camera will tie into a computer and will be able to take clues from the environment as well as to record everything that happens within a two day period. Where did I leave my keys? Just rewind...

    So are we going to take away the right to record in public? What happens when devices will be able to record directly from our brain activity? Is everyone going to have the equivalent of copyright to their own images? Is everyone going to be forced to forget everyone else and submit to memory wipe everyday as a result of a DMCA like forget notification?

    When it comes to location and tracking on that point we have to surrender. There is no way to put that genie back in the bottle. And to me when anyone in the pubic can do it I see no reason the government couldn't do it as well. That cat is simply out of the bag.

    • Have a look at this then http://europe-v-facebook.org/EN/Data_Pool/data_pool.html [europe-v-facebook.org]

    • You relish the right to record and track other people...but in many places you don't have the right to conceal your own face! And by the time there are brain recording devices there will probably be better body cloaking options than a ski mask, though you won't be permitted to use them. The reality is whatever rights you have are just scraps that couldn't be taken away. Only government has the resources and privileges to fully implement global tracking, and government agents and members of the elite will be
    • You have the right to record in public, for your own private usage.
      You have no right to publish your recordings without the consent of the people you have recorded.
      But that is basically what facebook is doing ....

  • Recently I got a mail via Facebook from my sister asking me to join her.

    As I've always been suspicious of Facebook-style sites I would never do such.
    What made me really worried is the in the mail named persons I could get in touch with would I set up an account, a whole string of my private and business acquaintances all over the world were listed, how the HELL did they amass this on a non-member???
    Because I'm pretty sure my sister has not listed this string of acquaintances that are not even likely to k

    • on of the things Facebook likes to do is Yoink your address book/contacts list from your email service so i would bet that somebody on that list allowed the address book yoink and then got X folks to sign up and some of them allowed the Yoink (Facebook at this stage cross references and dedupes the addresses). Now that it has gotten to YOU Facebook has noticed that %list% has YOU listed.

  • Until they get caught not doing what they were told to the last time this time.

FORTH IF HONK THEN

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