August 16, 2012 - German data
protection officials today accused Facebook
of â€śillegally compiling a vast photo database of users without their consentâ€ť and demanded that the social network destroy its archive of files based on facial recognition technology, the New York Times
says that it uses face recognition software to match usersâ€™ photos to others and suggest friends to tag in those photos. A user can prevent friends from seeing tag suggestions when they upload photos that look like that user. But this requires opting out through Facebook
privacy settings, which Germany
notes is a violation of European law.
â€śThe social networking companyâ€™s decision to use analytic software to compile photographic archives of human faces, based on photos uploaded by Facebookâ€™s users, has been controversial in Europe, where data protection laws require users to give their explicit consent to the practice,â€ť the Times wrote. â€śInstead of using such an opt-in system, Facebook
assumes users will want to use facial recognition and requires them to opt out instead.â€ťGermany
started investigating Facebook
over the practice in June 2011, suspending the investigation in June of this year after failing to convince Facebook
to change its practices. But the German data protection commission reopened the investigation today, demanding that Facebook
â€śdestroy its photographic database of faces collected in Germany
and revise its Web site to obtain the explicit consent of users before it creates a digital file based on the biometric data of their faces,â€ť the article states.