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Germany: Facebook must destroy facial recognition database

Germany: Facebook must destroy facial recognition database

August 16, 2012 - German data protection officials today accused Facebook of “illegally compiling a vast photo database of users without their consent” and demanded that the social network destroy its archive of files based on facial recognition technology, the New York Times reported.

Facebook says that it uses face recognition software to match users’ 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.

“The social networking company’s decision to use analytic software to compile photographic archives of human faces, based on photos uploaded by Facebook’s users, has been controversial in Europe, where data protection laws require users to give their explicit consent to the practice,” the Times wrote. “Instead of using such an opt-in system, Facebook assumes users will want to use facial recognition and requires them to opt out instead.”

Germany 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 “destroy 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,” the article states.

Sources and more information:

Germany going after Facebook's facial recognition again

Facebook has already been on the wrong end of a privacy investigation in Germany, but it looks like the company's legal woes aren't quite over yet. The New York Times reports that German data protection officials have reopened their investigation into Facebook's facial recognition technology after it became apparent that Facebook wasn't going to...

Germany reopens Facebook facial recognition inquiry, Facebook defends its legal status

Germany going after Facebook's facial recognition again

Germany to Facebook: Facial-recognition feature is breaking the law

( via arstechnica.com )


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