The Privacy BlogThoughts on privacy, security, and other stuff.

Jan/14

9

Facial recognition apps: I both desire and fear them.

B W Mask ImageFacial recognition app matches strangers to online profiles | Crave – CNET

Google has adopted a privacy protecting policy of banning facial recognition apps from the Google Glass app store. I appreciate the effort to protect my privacy but facial recognition is probably the ONLY reason I would wear Google Glass.

I am hopeless at parties or networking events. I have no ability at all to remember names, and I know I am far from alone in this. The ability to simply look at someone and be reminded of their name, our past interactions, and any public information about their recent activities, would be absolute gold.

Obviously I am less enthusiastic about having third party ratings of my intelligence, integrity, hotness, or whatever, popping up to the people looking at me. As usual, humans are in favor of privacy for themselves but not for others.

A new app is coming out soon called Nametag, which is planned to do exactly this. On iOS, Android, and jail broken Glass, you will be able to photograph anyone and, using facial recognition, pull up all available social media information about them.

To opt out you will need to set up an account with NameTag, and I presume you will also need to upload some high quality pictures of yourself so they can recognize you to block the information. Hurm…..

Whatever we all think about this, the capability is clearly coming. The cameras are getting too small to easily detect, high quality tagged photos are everywhere, and the computing power is available.

While citizens have some ability to impact government surveillance cameras and facial recognition, it will be much harder to change course on the use of these technologies with private fixed cameras, phones, and smart glasses. Even if we convince device makers to block these applications, the really creepy people will jailbreak them and install them anyway.

For years I have said that the Internet is the least anonymous environment we inhabit. With this kind of technology, it may soon be much easier to hide yourself online than off. Police really don’t like you wearing masks.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook and Google+.

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1 comment

  • Mask Me Premium · February 2, 2014 at 12:57 am

    Facial recognition is great, but again where does the data go, and where is it held. Great concept, but will be a privacy invasion.

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