A recent Naked Security Sophos.Com article reported that Facebook was under pressure by the European Union to drop the facial recognition feature for it’s European customers. Why complain about this cool feature that uses facial recognition to “tag” photographs on Internet Facebook pages with the name of the person depicted? Because the EU has a strong privacy protection laws, and because it cares about the privacy and safety of its citizens…are any other countries out there watching and listening?
A December 2011 audit of Facebook’s privacy practices was prompted by the “public uproar after an Austrian student, Max Schrems, requested a copy of the data that Facebook stored about him. Schrems received a 1,200 page document that suggested the company was collecting a wide range of information about users without their consent, and holding onto information – photos and comments – that users had been led to believe were deleted.
Among the data retained by Facebook were photo tags – many attributed without the subject’s consent using automated facial recognition technology embedded in Facebook’s service.”
We’re talking about 1,200 pages of information stored about one person…one person!!! Now, I’m not a privacy activist; but I am concerned about the amount private information, especially photographs that are stored and therefore subject to being hacked and stolen for the ultimate purpose of identity theft.
I’m glad the EU is taking a stand on this issue; and it appears Facebook is concerned and willing to change their ways. But let’s not be too hasty to think good thoughts about Facebook just yet. The article quoted Facebook’s reaction to the issue:
"The company has to make sure that biometric profiles of its already registered users will only be created and stored with their active consent. Additionally, users have to be informed about risks of the practice in advance."
Same old Facebook.com trick…let’s make them tell us explicitly not to store their private information, hoping that most users will not be security savvy enough to understand the threat and will allow it.
Be careful out there…it’s dangerous.
Reference: Naked Security article
I hope you enjoyed this article; and if you’d like to receive an email when a new article is posted, please sign up for an email subscription on my home page. Don’t worry…I won’t give your email address to anyone…No One; I hate spam. Please share my blog with your friends and family. I’m also on Twitter as @PaulsInternetSecurity.