Germany’s not the place to mess around with internet privacy issues. And the latest to come under fire is Facebook for its facial recognition feature that helps users to quickly identify and tag friends in photos. A German privacy official today has accused Facebook of using the facial recognition technology in a way that is in violation of German and European privacy laws.
Facebook’s implementation of face recognition technology has already been under investigation by a conglomerate of data protection experts and officials from various EU nations. But today, Johannes Caspar, a data protection expert from the city of Hamburg has called on the social network to stop the feature for German users and to delete the individual biometric data that’s been collected.
Caspar warned that the German authorities would take action if Facebook does not comply. His main concerns are that the data collected could be abused if fallen into the wrong hands. Specifically, he feared that such a system could be used in an undemocratic government to spy on the opposition.
“If the data were to get into the wrong hands, then someone with a picture taken on a mobile phone could use biometrics to compare the pictures and make an identification,” said Caspar. “The right to anonymity is in danger.”
It will be interesting to see how this develops, since here in the states, facial recognition add-ons for iPhones have just been approved for police departments nationwide to be deployed in September.