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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 MacTO ( 1161105 ) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @11:39PM (#36981368)

    I'm sorry, but I whole heartedly disagree.

    You don't use Facebook because you see it as a privacy violation. That's perfectly fine, and I'll respect you for that.

    What I do disagree with is the "my so-called 'friends'" comment. If they snagged a photo of you, they probably did so because you interacted with them. At that point, what you do is public knowledge. The degree to which it is public depends upon the context and your friends. 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. If they snapped a photo of you while in your home, well, it kinda sucks that they don't respect your wishes. And it kinda leaves you with a choice: are you so fanatical about privacy that you are willing to give up any form of social life because of what happens? Or are you going to accept that there is no such thing as absolute privacy?

  • Postwar abuse? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tibit ( 1762298 ) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @11:43PM (#36981390)

    The German government, which possesses perhaps the world's most adamant privacy laws as a result of postwar abuse [...]

    Could someone please explain what is meant/implied by "postwar abuse" here? Post WW1? Sorry, I don't get it :(

  • by Kagetsuki ( 1620613 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @12:02AM (#36981522)

    Ditto. And I get constant e-mails from Facebook because my friends decided to import their address books and now Facebook knows me. What's amazing is that my dead uncle who I only met once in person while living, his account still exists and Facebook keeps telling me he "wants to reconnect" with me. Yeah, I'm never signing up.

  • by bonch ( 38532 ) * on Thursday August 04, 2011 @12:29AM (#36981756)

    Slashdot on Google: "Google is awesome! Google+ already has 25 million users. So what if your info is out there, you give out your info with everything you do. It's not a big deal. Snooping passwords and emails with Street View vans? Your fault for not securing your network! Excuse me while I send more private messages through Gmail to be indexed for advertisers."

    Slashdot on Facebook: "The whole damn site is a privacy violation! People are doing things with my pictures without my knowing, and I have no way to stop them. All Facebook wants to do is exploit my data for selling to advertisers. Those bastards and their privacy violations!"

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @12:44AM (#36981840)

    If they snagged a photo of you, they probably did so because you interacted with them. At that point, what you do is public knowledge.

    Our law disagrees. Actually, even taking a picture of someone (safe celebrities known to the law as "people of public interest") is not permitted without his or her explicit consent. Publishing this picture in whatever way requires consent again, and permitting the former does not imply permitting the latter in the slightest.

    It's quite similar in Germany, btw.

  • Totally wrong. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 04, 2011 @12:45AM (#36981846)

    Facebook is a data-mining and advertising company. They can and will sell all that information any time they feel like it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 04, 2011 @01:02AM (#36981946)

    Amazing cars, unbelievable roads (with no speed limits in some cases!), good beer, good food, cool people, and a government that fights for its peoples privacy? When did moving to Germany become attractive? How did we in the US reverse our roles with the krauts?

    Deutschland über alles i'm afraid

  • by adri ( 173121 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @03:11AM (#36982644) Homepage Journal

    It's not just the "likeness", it also includes:

    * what you were wearing;
    * where you were;
    * what your current physiological state is (drunk, high, etc);
    * who you were with
    * what your current mental state is (happy, sad, etc);

    All of this and more can be gleaned from these photos.

    You may not object to this, but then people can start using this to tie together where people were at certain times. For example, you could have your photo from a party added to a database of other people at the same party, tied together not only by the photo album, but the photo date/time, the photo GPS location, shared information about where other people in the photo were, information gleaned from the background of the photo.. soon you're tracking where people are, what people are doing and who they associate with, all from a set of loosely-tied together photos tagged with face identification.

    It's going on now. It's not affecting you, because you're likely a white dude in the united states. When its being publicly used by governments wishing to oppress people - then you may stand up and pay attention. When people start uploading photoshopped versions of photos to "establish" someone was at a certain location, thus tainting them in a way that gets said oppressive government to nab them .. who's to say this hasn't yet happened?

  • Re:GO GERMANS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drolli ( 522659 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @07:25AM (#36983842) Journal

    Well the problem is simple. If facebook offers such a service then it falls under the laws existing in Germany. If they offer the service to identify me personally against their database on photos which other people upload then they need my permission to do so.

    The problem is that as long as facebook does not require any valid identification to get an account there, there is no way that would prevent the following: somebody uploads a photo of mine as his account photo and then asks facebook to look for him (that is, me) and then he or she can easily find out what i am doing even if i never touched anything there or my name is not mentioned. Very practical if you are an employer (applications in Germany still contain your photo).....

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.