Illinois: More on the Facebook facial recognition lawsuit

Facebook lawsuit calls collection of biometrics data illegal (Biometrics Update)

According to the Illinois Biometrics Information Privacy Act, it is unlawful to acquire biometric data without first providing the subject with a written disclaimer that details the purpose and length of the data collection, and without the subject’s written consent.

Read the whole thing.

Photos aren’t simply records of something that happened, mere mementos, anymore. They’re search terms and search results. That has implications for both public and private entities who collect and store images of people. Ordinary snapshots are now biometric data.

Now, about those Florida school yearbooks…

Facial recognition technology is changing how we think about photography

SCOTLAND: Cash-strapped police spend £700k on UK database (The Scotsman)

The MPs noted a “worrying” lack of government oversight and regulation of the use of biometrics by public bodies.

It called for day-to-day independent oversight of the police use of all biometrics, and for the Biometrics Commissioner’s jurisdiction to be extended beyond DNA and fingerprints.

ILLINOIS: Does Facebook’s facial recognition technology violate privacy laws? (ABA Journal)

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, argues that the social media company was required by Illinois law to inform Carlo Licata in writing that it would collect and retain his “biometric data,” and specify when it would destroy that data.

Both Facebook and the police in Scotland have been collecting photos of individuals for years but facial recognition technology changes things. Photos aren’t simply records of something that happened, mere mementos, anymore. They’re search terms and search results.

That has implications for both public and private entities who collect and store images of people.

Ordinary snapshots are now biometric data. The news pieces above both show long-standing policies being scrutinized in the context of reliable facial recognition technology.

Social media critique with a bleg for some biometrics already

The recent Burger King and Jeep twitter account hacks inspired Charlie Wollborg’s Having your social media feed hacked is forgivable; being boring is not at Crain’s Detroit Business.

Of course there’s a biometrics tie-in but the article is a fun read for those who are interested in the social media as well.

The biometrics part:

Can we unleash a few of our most talented geeks on making biometric security apps to the smartphone? Every sci-fi and spy movie in the last 50 years has shown our heroes using fingerprint scanners, retinal scanners and voice print identification. Forget the flying car, just bring me a biometric security app!

We’re working on it!

And then there’s the social media critique.

So yes, Burger King and Jeep had to deal with being hacked, but look at the opportunity! All eyes were on their social media feeds! What did they respond with? More of the same boring, bland content. Reading the last 30 twitter updates for both brand will give Lunesta a run for it’s money. Overly promotional. Instantly forgettable. Yawn.

Being hacked is forgivable. Being boring is not. A status update should not be a to do item. Don’t just post to post…

Good advice follows. I’d like to think we…

Google and Facebook have better Face Rec than the Police

Revelations In Online Facial Recognition (Police Oracle)

Ground-breaking biometric research has shown that the freely available facial recognition search engines used by social networking sites such as Facebook and Picasa are as accurate as some specialist biometric systems sold to government agencies, such as police forces.

First, the above linked article is extremely interesting and I suggest you read the whole thing. I just don’t share the author’s surprise at the research results.

Here’s why:

Facebook and Google (Picasa) have way more money than police departments and they can use facial recognition to make more money still.

Facebook and Google grasped the return on investment facial recognition offers them much earlier than Police departments. That isn’t surprising either.

Unlike police, Facebook and Google face almost no labor cost in collecting facial recognition information. Their users do all the work for them leaving the companies to concentrate on processing the information. Police labor is expensive.

Also unlike police, Facebook and Google can (and do) change their terms of service to accommodate what they want to do. Police don’t get to write, much less change, their terms of service (the law) regarding how and what information they collect and how it can be used.

Facebook and Google face technology isn’t free. In fact, having acquired, Facebook has sent notice to customers that in the near future they will have to look elsewhere for facial recognition help.

Google and Facebook are for profit tech companies. Police departments aren’t.

I suspect that Facebook (maybe Google, too) is applying much stronger data tools in its facial recognition efforts — tools that police can’t use. To understand why it is important to realize that a simple facial recognition search of all the photos on the Facebook or Google servers would be pretty close to useless. The ‘book simply has far too many faces. Based upon the image quality and the high number of photos, there would be far too many false positives resulting from a “brute force” matching effort. I’ll make an educated guess that the reason Facebook gets the facial recognition results that it does is that it uses its (highly proprietary) knowledge of its users to limit the face rec search only to people that Facebook already believes have a significant likelihood of actually knowing each other. If my assumptions hold, police would have to have a Facebook-like awareness of the population in order to achieve Facebook-like facial recognition results.

Given the above, it would be astounding/shocking/alarming (substitute your own descriptor) if Google and Facebook weren’t better at facial recognition than are police departments.

In a Cloud-Connected IT World, are Biometrics the Answer?

For your eyes only: New twist on Digital ID could keep you from getting hacked (ZDNet)

With so many individuals with multiple accounts on so many linked cloud services, it is inevitable that this sort of cybercrime is going to become more commonplace unless new mechanisms are put into place to prevent this form of compromise that Honan experienced.

One way of dealing with this would be to employ biometrics on all computing devices. I wrote about this at length in February 2011, which eventually led to an appearance on CBC Radio alongside prominent independent security researcher Dr. Markus Jakobsson.

How to Inoculate Against Public Facial Recognition

How to Defend Yourself Against Facial Recognition Technology (PBS)

Facial recognition technology [FRT] is now just about everywhere we are…

Do we simply have to accept this as inevitable, or are there things we can do to protect ourselves and others against improper or repressive use of FRT?

Below are some tactical and technological defenses against FRT. Specifically, two layers of those involve: 1) when we are being watched, for example, at protests or in a public space, and 2) when we ourselves are taking and sharing images of others, especially online.

This well sourced-article contains a wealth of information and links having to do with in person and online public facial recognition.

Of course, CV Dazzle gets plenty of attention, as it should.

The app that automatically pixelates the faces in pictures users take with their mobile phones is really cool, too.

Then there’s the software in “Friends” a threat to your privacy? This facial recognition app might help, which isn’t mentioned in the PBS piece, but it would fit right in.