As the world contemplates Mark Zuckerberg’s very successful market-research company Facebook’s face recognition, a watchdog in Germany has deemed it illegal.
Users will have probably noticed the automatic tagging, which finds your friends when you upload the photo. Hamburg’s data protection watchdog, reports Bloomberg, says that the software could be “the world’s largest database of biometric features”.
Like with many Facebook “features” it’s not particularly easy for the average user to switch off – and is on by default. As such, Hamburg says it’s a major intrusion of user privacy – the fact that the antisocial media website can determine what many of its hundreds of millions of users look like without their consent is alarming. And Facebook, even though it is a global powerhouse, “must respect that”.
We showed you yesterday how difficult Facebook makes it for you to leave its ranks – how you “deactivate” your account instead of delete it, and how you “archive” messages instead of binning them forever. To leave, a user has to wait up to two weeks for Facebook’s permission, and if the account is accessed again, the request is null.
If Facebook won’t delete your messages – what could it do with your face?
At least one answer is asking the user their express permission – much like companies are being forced to with location services. Most will click yes and won’t give it another thought.
The statement is available in German, here.
Germans like their privacy. Last year, when Google was mapping what it could of the world with unsightly hatchbacks and cameravans, Germany citizens said enough’s enough and demanded action. Google at the time said it would black out their houses, which didn’t work that well if their neighbours houses were on display.