A few months ago Facebook introduced a face recognition technology which automatically tagged users in pictures uploaded to the site. Since then, privacy advocates have criticized the technology for its potential to violate user privacy by tagging users in potentially compromising photographs which are not even uploaded by said users:
For example, if you have a Facebook account — which nearly everyone does — and you happen to show up in some unrelated third-party’s picture of an event, you will be tagged in that photo. Advocates especially criticized the fact that Facebook offered this feature on an “opt-out” basis where users would need to go into their settings and opt out of having their names automatically tagged to photos that include their faces. The Daily Online Examiner reports on recent developments:
Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said last month that allowing people to opt out after they had been tagged was troubling. “Unknowing consumers may have their photos tagged and matched using facial recognition software without their express consent, potentially exposing them to unwelcome attention,” he said at the time.
Today, however, Jepsen seems to have backed down from that stance. He approvingly announced that Facebook made “significant changes” to its tool. In fact, however, the big change is that Facebook will run an ad campaign on its site about the feature; clicking on the links in the ads takes people to pages where they can opt out of automatic tagging.
It will be interesting to see how this issue develops as the technology (and its uses) expand. (e.g., Will there be privacy violation issues with regard to surveillance photos used via the Facebook tool to identify criminal or civil wrongdoers?)
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