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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 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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  • by bughunter ( 10093 ) <bughunter&earthlink,net> on Thursday July 19, 2012 @10:33PM (#40707063) Journal

    You're joking, but it's entirely possible.

    I recall when I was in High School (in the days of acid-washed jeans and dolphin shorts) I could recognize all the hot girls from a quarter mile away just by the shape and movement of their asses, which I had carefully observed and memorized for later recall.

  • Re:hats (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @10:48PM (#40707165) Journal
  • by Midnight_Falcon ( 2432802 ) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @11:01PM (#40707231)

    Of course, it's concerning that facebook profiles, pictures of you going through customs or from a drivers license etc, are now beginning to be tapped into by the government and private sector alike.
    In this case, while I think it's a cause for concern for almost every facebook user, the folks I have the most concern about are activists of various sorts.

    Facebook, while famed for its use in the Arab Spring for facilitating communication between activists, hardly seems like a bastion of privacy for US citizens. The Arab spring was a bit different than the activism the US or other Western governments would like to target though -- in fact, they encouraged the uprisings. What about forms of dissent that the US or Western governments don't like?
    The most prominent recent example is Occupy Wall Street, and regardless what you think about their message, it's easy to see how some subpoenas to facebook could be used to completely subvert an opposition organization. They would be able to find who these activists are without even arresting them -- they'd be able to use facial recognition software, get information on all their friends and relationships on facebook, and then track them between rallies and protests etc. with more facial recognition.

    Imagine if the FBI had this ability in the 1960s to crack down on the civil rights movement?

    Maybe a decentralized, p2p form of social networking will make facial recognition and tracking etc more difficult for governments and private companies in the future? Or is it already too late for most since the information is all on Facebook to stay?

  • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @11:15PM (#40707311) Homepage Journal

    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."

    The problem was the opposite - you weren't paranoid, but too unconcerned. You "friended" people you had no reason to trust, and it turned out they weren't trustworthy.

    I have used Facebook for exactly one thing - creating an empty profile and then deliberately disabling the associated e-mail address and erasing the password.
    Friends? That's people who have earned my trust, and my friendship and trust does not extend to their friends.
    I'd rather have five friends than fifty "friends".

    There are 3-4 pictures of me on the Internet, but none of them are good enough to recognize me by. And that's fine with me. I'm far from anonymous, but I'm not public domain either.

  • You are naive (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 19, 2012 @11:35PM (#40707429)

    I think you're being naive, I am very careful never to post any image of myself anywhere, and yet when I go looking in Facebook I can find images of me associated with my name.

    The trouble is, people who know will keep posting pictures and then identifying those pictures. They have no idea what a nightmare they're creating for themselves.

    When one of my wifes friends split with her boyfriend, he dug through her facebook friends and started visiting them at home to see if his ex was staying. Suddenly they all realize what they've done with their FB data sharing, but by then its too late.

    So you can say you've been careful, but can you say that about everyone you know, who knows you??

The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin