Polar Rose: More Amateur Facial Recognition

Another facial recognition search engine product has launched – Polar Rose. This New Scientist Tech article notes some of the privacy concerns:

Polar Rose and future developments that make facial recognition available to the masses risk encroaching on people’s privacy, warns Yaman Akdeniz, director of the UK non-profit group Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties.

“Although this sounds like a great idea, I would not like to be searchable in this way, or so easily tracked without my consent,” says Akdeniz. The database compiled by Polar Rose is similar to the kind of biometric database some governments wish to use, he points out.

“I wonder whether they have a right to build such a database,” says Akdeniz, he suggests people think twice before embracing such potentially intrusive tools, and consider which photos of themselves they allow online.

Others agree. Simon Davies, director of the campaign group Privacy International and a specialist in technology and privacy at the London School of Economics, UK, says face-searching technology is valuable but must be used responsibly.

He fears Polar Rose could help identity thieves or stalkers, or even be used by the police to monitor protesters. “They could use the service to find where people have been, what their activities are, or who they associate with,” he says.

Search engines should allow users to prevent their photos being searched, says Davies. “There should be a way to put code in a webpage that signals you want to opt out,” he told New Scientist.

I don’t have time to add much more, but I’ve blogged about the privacy and surveillance concerns with widespread adoption of facial recognition search engines here, here, and here.

[via Pogo Was Right]

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  1. michaelzimmer.org » Photo Finder: Automated Facial Recognition on Facebook - [...] kind of facial recognition system isn’t new, even in social networking contexts (see Polar Rose). But Face.com’s particular approach …

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