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Facebook's Facial Recognition App 'Moments' Is Too Intrusive, Regulators Say

Răzvan MUREȘAN

June 22, 2015

Facebook's Facial Recognition App 'Moments' Is Too Intrusive, Regulators Say

Facebook`s recently introduced Moments, an app that groups photos using facial recognition technology and allows users to share them with friends, does not respect European law. The company was previously forced to withdraw this technology for European users on its main site.

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Moments manages photos on the user`s device, groups them using factors such as place, time and, through facial recognition, who is in them. Based on this, users can decide which friends to share pictures with, but without posting them publicly.

The Moments system currently works only in the US. Facial recognition in Moments is linked to Facebook settings. If users do not want to be recognized in other people’s Moments photos, they need to set Tag Suggestions to No One in your own Facebook account.

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Ireland`s data regulator said users must be given a choice to opt-in, according to the BBC, but Facebook has no plans to develop such a feature.

Facebook announced earlier this year that its DeepFace AI system was powerful enough to identify users with 97.25% accuracy. However, this technology is not compatible with EU and Canadian regulators. In 2010, Facebook rolled out facial recognition technology to identify people in photos but, two years later, it was forced to withdraw the technology from Europe, after Ireland’s data protection commission highlighted privacy issues.

Regarding the data collected, Facebook promises to provide advance notice to users about any government data demands and will delay notice only in limited circumstances, unless prohibited by law from doing so or in exceptional circumstances, such as child exploitation cases, emergencies or when notice would be counterproductive, according to the “Who Has Your Back” report by Electric Frontier Foundation.

Last week, the Belgian privacy commission took Facebook to court for its alleged “trampling” of Belgian and European privacy law over tracking of users and non-users for ads, while the facial recognition technology has become subject of debate in the US too.

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