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 …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Ian Ferguson

    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.

    1. Alpha Tony


      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.

  2. Blofeld's Cat


    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.

    1. Hayden Clark Silver badge

      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.

      1. Ian Michael Gumby

        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. :-)

        1. nyelvmark


          >> 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.

  3. Raindancer

    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...

    1. Stephane Mabille



      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!

    2. James Micallef 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

      1. nyelvmark

        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.

  4. Winkypop Silver badge

    Your invasion of privacy......

    ....turned on by default.

  5. despicable me

    Don't you think it's looking tired?

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

  6. Anonymous Coward


    ""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?

  7. Mondo the Magnificent

    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

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Goes both ways

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

  8. Kevin Johnston


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

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Facebook has rejected claims...

    German Govt: This violates our law!

    Facebook: Oh no it doesn't!

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like