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Germany Says Facebook's Facial Recognition Is Illegal 278

fysdt writes "Although we think it's generally a pretty nifty feature, valid concerns over the misuse of Facebook's auto-recognition tagging have lead Germany to ban it entirely. That's right — Facebook in its current state is now illegal. The German government, which possesses perhaps the world's most adamant privacy laws as a result of postwar abuse, considers Facebook's facial recognition a violation of 'the right to anonymity.'"
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Germany Says Facebook's Facial Recognition Is Illegal

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  • by kasnol ( 210803 ) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @11:15PM (#36981220) Homepage

    Finally someone recognizes the right of "not being recognized without consent".

  • by wickerprints ( 1094741 ) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @11:17PM (#36981240)

    The whole damn site is a privacy violation. I don't even use FB and I know that there are photos of me floating around on there, tagged by my so-called "friends." Short of being a hermit, I have no way to stop people from uploading data that identifies me to a site that makes money by exploiting that knowledge to sell shit.

  • by HellYeahAutomaton ( 815542 ) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @11:57PM (#36981484)

    If they snapped a photo of you while you were walking down the street, deal with it because that is a public space and anyone could have done that.

    The problem here is how people will deal with it:
    a) The native American who doesn't want their soul stolen.
    b) The wanna-be fashion diva who claims you didn't get their release, and you are stealing their IP, livelihood, etc.
    c) Or the guy who just wants to kick your ass because he doesn't want photos around that he didn't consent.

    People in general have a reasonable expectation of privacy everywhere they go despite what all of the social media douchebags think. When you click that photo, you best be sure you know how to defend yourself, because you do not know how people are going to react.

  • by hjf ( 703092 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @12:12AM (#36981624) Homepage

    Stop confusing anonymity with privacy.

  • by Bing Tsher E ( 943915 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @12:13AM (#36981628) Journal

    Get a clue. It isn't as much the presence of the photos on FB that Grandparent is objecting to. It's the tagging of the photo by friends.

    Sure, any photo taken in public is 'public knowledge.' But photos taken in public by strangers aren't captioned. And it isn't being 'fanatical about privacy' to not want captioned photos of yourself out there beyond your control. That's the entire fricking point about the Facial Recognition deal. It renders the captions world-searchable to a degree that was unthinkable a decade ago. And it makes rather aggressive data mining cheap.

  • by MacTO ( 1161105 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @12:25AM (#36981702)

    I can sort of see your point, and I also think that it's irrelevant. I mean yeah, it's kinda scary that someone can take a photo and attach a name to it only to have someone else take that photo and that name to attach that name to another photo. And that other person may be stalking you for any nefarious reason.

    The thing is, it happens anyhow. People started identifying you the first day you went to school, the teacher called your name and you said, "here." Some of the kids who were in the classroom when you identified yourself pointed you out and identified you to other kids during recess. That sort of thing happens all of the time in the adult world too.

    So you can't really treat your likeness or your name as private. It simply isn't realistic.

  • by ignavus ( 213578 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @12:31AM (#36981764)

    The whole damn site is a privacy violation.

    You could say that about the entire Internet.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @12:39AM (#36981808)

    Anyone playing the race card has lost the argument already before opening his mouth.

  • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @01:11AM (#36981988) Homepage

    Race card? I was always under the impression that being Jewish was a religion, not a "race".

    As with most things, it's very easy to make up your mind if you choose to ignore the last hundred years of debate and scholarship on the topic.

  • by Pieroxy ( 222434 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @03:09AM (#36982630) Homepage

    You are missing the point by about a hundred thousand miles. What happens in real life cannot be cross connected and searched on in a fraction of a second. What computers brought to the picture is this ability. Cross the social security database with Facebook and Google databases and you've got a tool that is all dictators wet dreams.

    Of course, nothing more than being recognized in the street. Except it is a lot more.

    In France, we have a state-backed organism that basically prevents any private database from using a key from another database. It also forces companies to delete or update your account if you wish (it's the law that YOU have control over YOUR data even if it's in some companies database.)

    It's a bit harder to build databases. Sure, using the SSN to identify everyone resolves a lot os issues, but that's strictly forbidden. As a result, identity theft is a concept that doesn't exist in France.

    The fact that anyone can recognize you in the street is *not* equivalent to random people tagging you on Facebook.

  • by sg_oneill ( 159032 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @04:39AM (#36982986)

    Yeah thats one of the big sticking points of difference between Orthodox and Liberal judaism is that you can convert in liberal judaism fairly easy whereas its an extremely complicated process (possibly not even possible) in orthodox judaism.

    Its also been a big bone of contention in israel as to whether recognising converts .... well lets not go there, I detest that a modern western country still hasn't understood that the minute a government takes religion into account for citizenship your living in an undeclared theocracy. Alas.

  • by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @05:19AM (#36983200)

    yup, this is Germany.

    Once you realise the first time there was computerised cataloging of individuals, it was used to divvy them up into those who will be sent to the gas chamber and those who would be good blue-eyed blonds. You can understand why this is a big deal and why the law is set as it is. Even facebook doesn't get an opt-out for this.

  • Re:GO GERMANS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by headLITE ( 171240 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @08:26AM (#36984218)

    English-speaking folks learned of the existence of Bavaria when it was called Bavaria or something phonetically similar. Baden-Württemberg was formed after WWII so it was never called something else. Saxony-Anhalt is an interesting case. Saxony is derived from the old Latin name Saxonia, while Anhalt is not old enough to have a Latin name. When Saxony-Anhalt was created after WWII with the German name Sachsen-Anhalt, English speakers used the existing English name of Saxony but the Anhalt part wasn't translated.

    For the same reason, Germans are called Germans in English while modern-day Germans using the same word (Germannen) would be talking about members of the Germanic tribes from two thousand years ago. The German name for modern-day Germans (Deutsche) is only a few hundred years old; at the time people started using it to refer to what ended up to be Germany (Deutschland), English already had a name for the people living in the general direction of where Germany is located.

  • Re:GO GERMANS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by moonbender ( 547943 ) <moonbender@3.14gmail.com minus pi> on Thursday August 04, 2011 @08:39AM (#36984296)

    Your post is full of assertions and half-truths. Of course it's technically possible to collect (face,name) pairs, but whether it's economically viable is hardly clear and is not a fixed proposition. It might be viable one day (because it's legal and/or people want it) and non-viable the other (because it's illegal and/or people don't want it anymore, for whatever reason). You're giving up the fight without a struggle, before it's even really started yet.

    And, regardless, not everything that's technically and economically viable gets done, or if done, amounts to anything of importance. Collecting face data was being done before Facebook (or other big names) were doing it, but nobody cared, because it's only a big deal if somebody like Facebook with its insane network effects is backing it.

    Calling the exchange of your data for access of other peoples data a fair trade is arbitrary: you can argue that it's the price to pay right now, but there's nothing inherently fair about it. There's nothing inherently fair about paying 1 EUR for organic milk, either, but at least that's a price established in a well-known and relatively transparent process, with non-surprising consequences for both sides.

    Oh yeah and then that hogwash on getting rid of privacy for great justice and fighting oppression. I'm sure knowing your peers masturbatory habits will be very useful when someone shoves a gun in your face. Drivel.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.