Friday, August 17, 2012

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) Is In For A Trouble With Its Facial Recognition Feature

The officials at the German data protection authority have taken the decision of reopening its inquiry into the technology that is being used for Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s facial recognition.

The inquiry is set up by the Hamburg data protection agency. It focuses on Facebook’s Photo Tag Suggest feature that is programmed to analyze photos uploaded on the social networking site. It immediately matches faces to the members of the site with the help of facial recognition tool.

This probe was initially put on hold in June after the site had told the agency that it was nearing a breakthrough in its discussions with the Irish data Protection Agency. The Irish agency has been prying over the privacy audit of the company. The German officials have decided to suspend proceedings that would favor an agreement with the company.

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Professor Dr Johannes Casper, the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, has now resumed the inquiry after Facebook revealed to the agency that it was reluctant to make concessions further than agreeing to stop collecting new facial profiles.

The main concern of the agency is that the social networking site does not notify its users that the facial recognition technology is being used. The agency has also claimed that a biometrics database that contains millions of faces has been misused.

The agency has also said that the users’ data has been used without their consent. That makes proceedings against Facebook inevitable.

Casper thinks Facebook must delete all the information that has been already gathered or at least make sure that users consent to their information being used this way. He also mentioned that Facebook is aware that its current procedure to collect biometric information of its users contradicts data protection laws of Europe and Germany.

Facebook has said that it is still discussing the matter with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner and has entered into an agreement to develop a practice to notify users about Photo Tag Suggest. 

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