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OK. So I added the “top secret and maybe evil” bit, but that’s basically how Senator Al Franken characterized Facebook’s facial recognition tagging program at a Congressional hearing. “Facebook may have created the world’s largest privately held database of face prints without the explicit knowledge of its users.” Forbes reports:
Franken had an especially heated exchange with Facebook privacy manager Rob Sherman, with Franken complaining that a user has to click through six pages in Facebook’s privacy settings before the term “facial recognition” appears. When Sherman responded that he didn’t think it was that hard to get to but “wasn’t sure,” Franken asked skeptically, “You’re the guy in charge of all this?”
Turns out he’s not super pumped about facial recognition software in general. From Bloomberg:
Franken also expressed concern about a Federal Bureau of Investigation facial-recognition pilot program that lets law enforcement officers take a photo of a person and compare it to a database of criminal suspects. The effort was started in Maryland, Michigan and Hawaii and will soon expand to three more states, Franken said.
So why is any of this a big deal? There are questions about how law enforcement can use this technology and no clear laws in place. (Should search a facial recognition database require a warrant?) Also, there are worries that someone could take a picture of a cutie at a bar, use facial recognition technology to figure out who she is, check out her likes, her dislikes, where she works…. it gets creepy right away. On the flip side, you might be able to find secret twins and doppelgangers you never knew about.
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