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EFF: Americans May Not Know It, But Many Are In a Face Recognition Database Now 152

colinneagle writes "People are not going to, nor should they have to, start walking around outside with a bag over their head to avoid security cameras capturing images of them. Yet 'face recognition allows for covert, remote and mass capture and identification of images — and the photos that may end up in a database include not just a person's face but also how she is dressed and possibly whom she is with. This creates threats to free association and free expression not evident in other biometrics,' testified EFF Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch. There are 32 states that use some form of facial recognition for DMV photos. Every day, Facebook happily slurps up and automatically scans with facial recognition software about 300 million photos that users upload to the social networking giant. 'Face recognition is here to stay, and, though many Americans may not realize it, they are already in a face recognition database,' Lynch said. In fact, when you stop to consider Facebook "at least 54% of the United States population already has a face print." Now it purchased Face.com which had 31 billion face images profiled."
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EFF: Americans May Not Know It, But Many Are In a Face Recognition Database Now

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  • Minority Report (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Andrio ( 2580551 ) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @10:25PM (#40707001)
    It'll end up like in Minority Report where the advertisements scanned people's eyes to identify and tailor ads to them. Only instead of eyes, faces will be scanned. Which is probably scarier, since scanning a face requires no special biometric equipment. It just needs an old fashioned camera and an internet connection, so that the face image can be sent to a server and processed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 19, 2012 @10:27PM (#40707021)

    For the longest time I didn't have a Facebook page because I am a very private person. I used an avatar instead of a photograph thinking that that would suffice.

    The very next day when I logged in I saw that multiple people had uploaded photos with me in them, tagged me and added my full name after I had SPECIFICALLY asked them NOT to do so. They laughed it off and eventually got angry when they realized how pissed off I was. When I told one to remove the photos she point blank said, "No. Because you're being fucking PARANOID. This'll do you some good."

    So yeah, I'm sure that I'm in there. Screw people.

  • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @10:39PM (#40707107) Journal
    The problem is your 'work' and 'education' images flow into the system.
    Your 3rd or 4th year prof, the nice one do DoD work? Work with a DoD cleared .com? Work on some public/private security board?
    They clear his/her family, friends and "colleagues" and any students.
    Want a bank account, passport, trendy job, home? Your going to have to prove who you are more and more.
    Local Feature Analysis (LFA) vs the hinted at speed of nodal point databases and say the known US populations size...
    The only block in the past was states that went cheap on their DMV databases. Create a card and keep that local database running was about all they could do.
    So have fun at your next peace or Tibet or green or wealth protest event. Digital or real someone has you face and ip :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 19, 2012 @11:16PM (#40707315)
    At least in the USA nobody can ID you when it comes time to vote...
  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @11:57PM (#40707519)
    You're a fool if you think that kind of thing is going to protect you. In fact, it probably makes it easier for them to identify you. Do they care what you're face really looks like? Not at all... their sole goal is to ID you when you visit some site, so they know what to try and sell you. If your profile pic is the FreeBSD devil, and your at the same IP with the same browser they picked up from that porn site you were just at... they pretty much have you. You are not, even remotely, anonymous on the internet. Assume that every website you visit has every bit of information about you that's on your drivers license and knows every site you've visited in the past couple of years, irrelevant of any security steps you took. Because the fact of the matter is, if they're willing to pay for the right software, that's exactly the kind of detail they have. I'm not just being paranoid, I've seen this software work on the back end. There are multiple companies out there offering it, it's cheap in enterprise terms. I think the only real hurtle so far has being the imaginations of marketing departments. The data is there... it's the smarts to do something terrible with it that have yet to arrive. 1984 was a joke compared to what's on the way if we let this keep heading where it's going. And it certainly seems like we are.

    Think about it like this. Given that what ever you post here will likely be stored forever... and given what you think is likely to happen over your lifetime with all this stored data... would you be willing to denounce the government that rules whatever country you're from right here for all to see? Maybe you would... but you hesitated... you thought about it for a second. And the fact that you have to even be slightly concerned about what you said, means we're all truly, and completely fucked.
  • Re:You are naive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bieber ( 998013 ) on Friday July 20, 2012 @03:42AM (#40708613)
    If you're that worried about obscenely uncommon edge cases, you might as well just lock yourself up in your house (the location of which you'll presumably permit no one to know) and never see the light of day again. Every time you go out in public people get the chance to see you, to interact with you, to find out who you are. And you know what? The vast, vast majority of the time that's exactly what you want: community is the most basic element of our existence, and we thrive on being connected to other people.

    Facebook is just one more means to share information that I want people to know. Is it remotely possible that some creep could end up using information shared on Facebook to stalk or harass me? Sure. However, it's an absolute fact that being able to rapidly share photos, events, even just amusing little quips for friends to see, respond to and comment on is a great boon. For the price of a couple minutes spared glancing through my newsfeed every now and then, I can get a quick overview of what the people I care about (and even ones that I only peripherally care about) are up to. Instead of contacts going stale when people move away and get preoccupied with their new lives, I'm able to keep in at least light contact with dozens of people from my past who would have otherwise been all but forgotten by now, keep track of what they're up to and find out when our locations happen to coincide.

    Is listing your home address on FB next to photos of your children and setting your privacy level to "public" a great idea? Certainly not, but taking a reasonable, measured approach to social networking certainly is. If someone on the Internet is able to somehow find a photo of my face with my name attached to it, I'm sorry but it just doesn't seem like too hefty a concern to me.
  • Re:You are naive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jahta ( 1141213 ) on Friday July 20, 2012 @04:29AM (#40708853)

    If you're that worried about obscenely uncommon edge cases, you might as well just lock yourself up in your house.

    Increasingly, this is sadly not an edge case.

    BBC News - Facial recognition marks the end of anonymity [bbc.co.uk]

    Being able to photograph a random stranger and, with the picture, pull up personal details about the person is genuinely disturbing.

  • by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Friday July 20, 2012 @05:45AM (#40709159) Journal

    Whaddaya wanna bet that there are no more than 15 billion distinct faces in that collection?

    I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that those 31 billion faces represent less than 3 billion individual people. The other 28 billion faces represent the various faces of about 150,000 politicians. These days it's no longer sufficient to be two-faced in politics. You have to be at least 170,000-faced to get into office and get re-elected.

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."