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back to article Facebook facial recognition tech 'violates' German privacy law

Facebook has rejected claims that its facial recognition technology violates German and EU privacy laws. Hamburg's data protection authority (DPA) warned (PDF, in German) the dominant social network, which quietly rolled the software into European versions of Facebook earlier this year, that it could be fined if the company …

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FAIL

Interesting excuse

"We have found people like it"

I'm going to start selling weed, and when warned by the cops, tell them that I found that people like it, so I'm going to continue regardless.

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@Ian

Interesting comparison.

One is something people get drawn into by peer pressure which causes them to sit around doing nothing productive for huge periods of time and whose users won't admit it's dangerous and addictive nature.

The the other is weed.

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Devil

Hmm...

I guess Facebook's technology is assuming that the photo I gave them is actually me.

I'm still hoping to get every photo of a long-haired white cat suitably tagged.

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Unhappy

It has nothing to do with your profile photos

*Other* people can tag photos *anywhere* as being you. There is no setting to prevent this.

The tag will then be visible to other people.

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Silver badge
Devil

I am Spartacus!

So if you want to mess with them, you can a movement to get everyone to name everyone in their photos as Spartacus.

I wonder how FB would react to that. :-)

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Boffin

Spartacus

>> I wonder how FB would react to that.

They would simply filter it out, of course. Inconvenient for anyone whose real name happens to be Spartacus, that's all. Pictures tagged Santa Claus, Gollum, Mr Myxmptlyk, etc go the same way. The same goes for the picture of the cat. It's very hard to write software that identifies the owner of a face with useful accuracy, but the technology to recognise a face _per se_ is mature, and is incorporated into auto-focus cameras. It's therefore also trivial to filter out pictures of cats, pot plants, daleks etc.

If you really want to flood the system with misinformation, you need to falsely tag images of real people with the names of other real people.

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Use is not the issue

Surely whether someone chooses to use this technology is not the issue. The real issue is that Facebook has the technology to automatically recognise a person's identity based on a photo.

As long as your friends can still manually tag photos of you, they continue to build the capability to recognise your image. Even if you remove that tag, do you believe that Facebook doesn't include the mapping between image and identity in their face recognition database.

So essentially:

they will continue to gather a robust way of identifying someone based on an image

they have a lot of personal information about you from your profile, relationships and posts

they make all this available (by law) to the American government

ergo, the US goverenment gains the ability to identify anyone in the world who has a facebook (or indeed Google+) account, based on any image that they take. Without wanting to sound all tin hat and coathangers - they may even be able to do this based on satellite imagery...

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Satellite??

Hi,

They might be able to do that with helicopters/drones and other relatively low altitude image sources that are able to take image with an angle.

Contrary to what TV shows/movies want us to believe, it's not possible to "Zoom in" from a satellite picture to read a number plate, as satellite picture are taken at (nearly) perpendicular angle from the earth. So even with the best possible resolution imaginable they would be able to count the number of hairs on you head, but for the moment "cranial recognition" is limited to bald or not!

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Silver badge
Thumb Up

Thumbs up

on everything except the last comment about satellites, which IS tin-hat & coathanger territory. Besides the fact that satellites can't cover the whole of the world in real-time, only areas of particular interest, IDing people from sat photos doesn't work because most people almost never look directly up

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Unhappy

most people almost never look directly up

OMG, when this gets out, sunbathers will be afraid to lie on their backs for fear of being identified from space! Look forward to a future where people only tan their backsides.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Your invasion of privacy......

....turned on by default.

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Unhappy

Don't you think it's looking tired?

Facebook? So 2010 darling - it's all G+ these days.

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WTF?

Wtf

""We have received few if any complaints about this issue so far, however if anyone has any concerns then they can make a complaint to us and we will look into their case further," a spokesman at the watchdog told El Reg earlier this week."

You'd think that when something is illegal according to EU law it would not matter if people complained or not...

So how do we 'complain' then?

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Stop

Face off...

I hope they do disable it for two important reasons:

Firstly, so I do not show up in any embarrassing photos

Secondly: So they stop associating me with photos of Harpo Marx

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Thumb Up

Goes both ways

I'm sure Harpo can't be too happy either.

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Bronze badge

ICO

Anyone know where I could get a set of those Truck Nuts to send him?

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WTF?

Facebook has rejected claims...

German Govt: This violates our law!

Facebook: Oh no it doesn't!

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