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Privacy Security United States Your Rights Online

How Face Recognition Can Uncover SSNs 103

nonprofiteer writes "Building on previous work showing that social security numbers are not random, CMU researchers ran experiments in which they predicted students' social security numbers after taking a photo of them with a cheap webcam. Using off-the-shelf facial recognition technology and data-mining publicly available Facebook photos and profile information, they were able to come up with the social security numbers of several of the students. (More impressive, as they note that 60% of the students were foreign, and had no SSNs, leaving them a pool of less than 50)."
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How Face Recognition Can Uncover SSNs

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  • by MacTO ( 1161105 ) on Monday August 01, 2011 @12:10PM (#36948606)

    Life lesson: those who fear that they will lose their freedom if they lose their privacy are usually so busy defending their privacy that they do not have freedom.

    Here's the thing. There's maintaining your privacy, then there's shutting yourself out of the world because you're trying to protect a part of your privacy that aren't very defendable. To some people, having a Facebook profile is like walking on a public street. People on the street know what their name is and know what they look like. Protecting the privacy of their name and likeness would be cutting them off socially. In a very real sense, that sort of privacy would be a loss of their freedom.

    You may draw the line somewhere else. I know that I do. But, for some people, just wouldn't be free if they had to worry about a stranger knowing their name and face or even some of their habits.

    As for the SSN thing, the government is to blame for not assigning numbers properly. The numbers themselves aren't necessarily a problem.

  • by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Monday August 01, 2011 @01:35PM (#36949726)

    There's nothing wrong with using a SSN as an identification.

    Other than the fact that my Social Security Card says quite clearly on the front "not to be used for identification", you would be right. Maybe.

"Tell the truth and run." -- Yugoslav proverb