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Face Search Engine Raises Privacy Concerns 158

holy_calamity writes "Startup Polar Rose is in the news today after announcing it will soon launch a service that uses facial recognition software, along with collaborative input, to identify and find people in photos online. But such technology has serious implications for privacy, according to two UK civil liberties groups. Will people be so keen to put their lives on Flickr once anyone from ID thieves to governments can find out their name, and who they associate with?"
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Face Search Engine Raises Privacy Concerns

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  • by Hijacked Public ( 999535 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @03:51PM (#17303766)
    I do some street photography and, although I don't personally publish material on the web, some of the people who hire me do. So even if you don't put your photo on Flickr because you are afraid of being identified by search engine there is nothing stopping me from putting it up there for you.
  • Witness Protection (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jeffkjo1 ( 663413 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @04:07PM (#17303984) Homepage
    I'm curious how things like this will work with Witness Protection.

    Setting aside the fact that, at least right now, sunglasses fool these systems... if someone, lets say, a member of the Talini Crime family wants to find a rat. By giving a picture of him to this company, they could then search for pictures on the internet he appears in.

    Considering how many pictures people take with random people in the background, it seems inevitable that said rat would turn up.
  • by oldwindways ( 934421 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @04:10PM (#17304028) Homepage Journal
    My understanding was that this software makes such precautions irrelevant as it could be used to cross reference images and determine that BlogUser99, PhotoDad12, etc are in fact the same person.

    Not a big deal, unless you happen to work for a conservative company and maintain an anti-government blog or some such thing.

  • by BigDogCH ( 760290 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @04:30PM (#17304296) Journal
    So,it seems to me that we should post pictures of ourselves everwhere, with tons of incorrect names. I guess tonight i will be making several myspace sites about fake people, with my pictures.
  • by Christoph ( 17845 ) <> on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @04:59PM (#17304780) Homepage Journal
    I have written permission to take your photo and publish it, at least in the USA, in the form of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

    I am being sued in federal court for publishing a man's photo (along with his name). See: []

    He's a mortgage originator, and he forged a sales agreement, and I'm warning others about him on my website (e.g. consumer speech). He dropped an earlier claim of defamation (what I wrote about his is true), but he's raising the same objection as you -- I can't publish his photo without permission. I disagree.

    Who gets to decide what I publish? For the most part, me, and it is a difficult decision. How could someone else make that decision for me better than me?

    I would agree it's morally wrong (not legally wrong) to publish someone's photo (with their name) without permission WHEN you have no reason (it's not newsworthy) AND you suspect they object. Many people, myself included, have no objection, and society can't suspend the freedom of the press to avoid offending those who want to keep their faces and names off the web. Keeping names off the web runs contrary to information wanting to be free. It sounds like a giant high-school yearbook, or a giant phone book that has other words, there may be some problems, but it doesn't sound overly troublesome.

  • by frdmfghtr ( 603968 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @05:23PM (#17305208)
    Especially with the advent of social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, and with user-supplied content, a-la YouTube. It's tough to keep a firm grasp on your privacy these days if you're at all part of any aspect of modern culture.

    Agreed. I submitted a story to /. on 11 December (still pending??) about an article in TIME magazine. / []

    From that story, a good example:

    But two Bank of America employees at a private function celebrating the company's merger with MBNA couldn't have anticipated what happened to them. Their over-the-top rendition of U2's "One" (with custom lyrics like "Integration has never had us feeling so good") wound up being mocked by thousands of Internet critics. (Adding injury to insult, lawyers for U2's record label threatened a lawsuit for copyright infringement.)

    Cheap video technology (esp. video-capable cellphones) and social sites make it all possible.

    Simply being in public can get you on these social sites, whether you actually use them (or have even HEARD of them) or not. In the end, the only way to ensure your privacy is to not become a part of society. If you venture into public, you too could end up on some social web site.

    And remember--this is the PUBLIC engaging in a type of surveillance on the PUBLIC. For the tinfoil hats out there, it's not just the government's watchful eye you have to be careful around; it's that video-capable cellphone in the hands of the seemingly innocent rider sitting across from you on the train, too.
  • by Original Replica ( 908688 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @05:28PM (#17305316) Journal
    The problem I'm concerned with here is more along the lines of: I cut someone off on the highway. They speed past and take a picture of me with cameraphone. They use said software to find pictures of me on the internet, including picture of me with my girlfriend. They search with same software for the identity of girlfriend. They take out their grudge on her.
    People go way overboard with road rage, so that scenerio isn't entirely paranoid. With a simple photo they get access to the who and where of all of my friends and family, by way of this software. It's a great tool for stalkers and exploitation, with little use to the average person.
  • The end of protest? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by maillemaker ( 924053 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @05:46PM (#17305654)
    >For example, you could go to a political or cultural event for an unpopular group

    Parent makes an interesting point. Who would risk going to any public protest for anything (war, whatever) knowing that you will probably turn up in a Google image search for doing so?

  • by SPYvSPY ( 166790 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @06:07PM (#17305968) Homepage
    A friend of mine works for a security firm here in NYC. They do camera system installs for certain *really*, *really* high security locations. If he wanders around in certain areas of the city, he'll have a nice email the next morning retracing his steps with still photos at various locations. The surveillance operators just feed the system a headshot and the rest is history. Sure, it's a little joke amongst co-workers, but it's fully possible today, right now.
  • Re:What IS OK? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by crabpeople ( 720852 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @06:13PM (#17306030) Journal
    "What is OK for governments to use to fight terrorism"

    Ok well to start, you cant fight a philosophy. What you are perhaps asking is that the government do more to fight Criminals. I would say that we have enough laws already to fight criminals. Some would say that this is a brave new world we live in and they need better tools to keep up with the crimes. I disagree that the world has magically changed and that we need to become a police state to fight for security. You will never be secure, because security is a concept of the mind (thats why gun enthusiasts think that they can buy security, they are somewhat right). Even your american founding fathers knew this in what was argueably a more savage and brutal world than the one we live in. They say clearly, dont sacrifice liberty for security, and I think whatever country you live in that thats a good idea. I would suggest that you instead look at the root causes and motivations of these particular criminals. Bin laden has said specifically what he wanted, most notably the USA out of the middle east. Why not start with that?

  • by hendzen ( 1041840 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @08:47PM (#17307772) Homepage
    Maybe a robots.txt -esque way of opting out of your picture's being indexed?

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