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Privacy groups fear ‘serious threat’ from facial recognition app which could out gay subjects

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  1. Nigel Whitfield 9 Jan 2014, 4:47pm

    Yes, there probably are serious issues here – there’s also a very different perspective on data protection and privacy on the two sides of the Atlantic. We’re pretty lucky that we do have rules in the EU that control the processing of data about identifiable people, and if this were a company based in Europe, they’d probably be told in very short order that they simply couldn’t collate this information without the explicit permission of the people (which might be impossible to get in many circumstances – you may be able to find someone’s name on certain sites, but that doesn’t mean you know their email or how to contact them).

    From the US perspective, they probably don’t see anything particularly wrong in this – if the information is out there, on sites that can be searched and indexed by people or machines that aren’t members of them, it is effectively public, and someone could find this out manually.

    To that extent, all they’ve really done is to make it quicker & easier to collate

    1. Nigel Whitfield 9 Jan 2014, 4:49pm

      That doesn’t mean I approve; it could cause a lot of people a lot of problems. But you can already, for instance, upload a photo to Google and have it find places that picture appears online.

      The real thing to remember is that whether it’s a gay site, a political one, or anything else, don’t create a profile and believe it’s private if you can see the details of other people before you join.

  2. If you upload information to a server that you don’t own why on earth would you expect any privacy? By the way my PinkNews just asked me for my email address to post this comment.

    1. The address you supply for Pink News comments is not publicly searchable.

      1. BlokeToys 9 Jan 2014, 7:30pm

        But with this app, your username will be, which will then be linked to another profile on another site where your email is, which can then be searched for instances on potentially hundreds of other sites that may reveal your phone number, while might then lead to another search revealing your address…

        That’s the point, that’s the argument, and that is why this is not acceptable. We argue about the NSA gathering such data on people, and then we see it being possible by absolutely anyone, friend or foe.


        1. Yeah I agree. I was just saying that giving an e-mail address for validation isn’t the same as having it published.

          I suppose the problem is with the app in question that as long as there’s no reason someone couldn’t already search for all this stuff on Google then it’s hard to see how they’re breaking any privacy law – unless a framework for protecting identity in these circumstances is somehow agreed upon in law, all they’re doing is “joining the dots” regarding information and images that have been made publicly available (even if the person in the photo didn’t upload it themself, which is even more worrying). I’m not sure how to stop it short of doing what I do which is to not post images of yourself online and not use social media sites (or remain anonymous/use different pseudonyms where you can).

  3. BlokeToys 9 Jan 2014, 7:27pm

    This is theoretically allowing stalking of anyone, by anyone, at any time.
    The argument against this is a valid one. When someone uses a service they choose what information to share with others ON THAT SERVICE. The privacy terms of that site have to be complied with, whether the search is coming from within or without.

    This app circumvents the wishes of the individual, collating the information from various sources whether you like it or not.

    If this app takes off, I can imagine that many millions of people will be removing their personal data from numerous sites and creating completely fictitious identities.

    This is a matter of personal security and a right to privacy. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn would be wise to make it clear that their services will be blocking any searches by this app and its associated IP’s. Unless they want to see members closing their accounts, they will have to act vigorously to prevent the mass harvesting of users information.

  4. Colin (Queenstown/London) 9 Jan 2014, 8:20pm

    Basically the USA wants to be able to trace everyone on the planet and have the equipment to do so. Laugh if you want. We are walking into a state controlled environment and worse a USA style. Many good things about the USA but I am not in favour of every site I visit, every page I look at, every journey I take carrying a mobile, facial recognition in supermarkets, clubs, work, bus. Every email, bank statement, every phone call being recorded.
    So in the future if you want to make a public statement the state can rubbish you by releasing that porn site you were on 5 years ago, that silly picture you took with mates naked 10 years ago as a student.

    I own my data. No one else should unless I know exactly what it’s being used for. Just bought a new computer. All programmes require email to use. I’ve deleted all of them. Do not think Europe will stop this. It’s too late. Anyone who put data on the cloud is a fool. We need a new Internet!

  5. floridahank 9 Jan 2014, 8:20pm

    What we need are many more people like Edward Snowden to make public the secrecy and invasion of privacy that is taking place worldwide. There is too much governmental involvement with these types of projects and the citizens should be aware of them and in fact do not permit them to be used without legal permission. If we don’t take control of them it will continue to where they know more about us than any human being does.

  6. Mark in Halifax 9 Jan 2014, 10:54pm

    OK, let’s get some clarity here. Millions of people choose to live their lives online, posting pictures of their cat ice skating and every dinner they’ve ever eaten. They blindly share tons of information unwittingly because although the warnings are constantly being shared via every conceivable form of media, they don’t read/listen/watch and inform themselves. I’m not saying it’s all their fault mind you. Personally I believe there should be some form of legislation that forces companies to say EXACTLY what they will do with this information and clearly state how to stop it happening to you if you don’t want it to. Frankly though, if we put the information out there and make ourselves easily recognisable, we have to accept that there may be consequences to this, whether we like it or not.

    1. Many sites do explain some basic aspects of how they will use data, but this is often buried in hundreds of pages of legalese, written deliberately to disguise the intention and meaning.
      Remember Facebook using peoples faces in advertizing without permission? The fact is people “gave” permission by continuing to use the service after they changed their policies and legal information.
      They meet the legal requirements where they have to, but they deliberately make it near impossible for the user to understand exactly what they are doing with your information.
      Of course, the NSA/GCHQ scandal only revealed that the legality of these companies means nothing when they climb into bed with a powerful agency. No one voted for that snooping, no one was consulted, no one given the opportunity to opt-out.
      And not all actions by these corps are legal either, remember Google “accidentally” harvesting private data from home and business networks while taking photos outside? That was no accident.

  7. Erica Cook 9 Jan 2014, 11:35pm

    This is why I don’t keep a pic online.

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