by Mike Masnick

Worried About Being Recognized Photographically Online? We've Got The Solution

from the who-knows-who's-who? dept

Riya, the well-hyped facial recognition software provider, had a "launch" party a few weeks ago, though they didn't actually seem to launch there. I showed up a bit late and missed the actual "demo" part, and when asked, the folks at Riya would only say that they couldn't show the demo again (in fact, they said "in a few months"). Usually a launch means that the product can be shown. However, the idea of simple facial recognition software that can scan through your photos and tell you who's who is already worrying some folks about privacy issues. While the technology has proven absolutely useless in catching random criminals walking down the street, it certainly could work much better in a more narrow environment of picking out which of your pictures include your brother. The privacy fear is that if you're ever caught on film anywhere, even in the background somewhere, a record may go online about where you were. From what Riya has said, this is unlikely to be a huge problem, as it only puts up names from within your dataset of people. That is, it doesn't look through everyone else's photos to name yours -- and if you don't know who the random guy walking in the background is, Riya isn't likely to tell you. Still, it's possible that others could go down that path eventually -- and at that point the least of our problems may be if someone spots you somewhere you shouldn't be. Who needs face transplants? A little photoshopping can put your face anywhere, opening up all sorts of legal issues that make silly arguments over fake Wikipedia bios pale in comparison. Though, if anything, perhaps that's the best way to solve the privacy issue. Just set up a different program that morphs your head onto all sorts of photos and litters the internet with them. Then it will be impossible for anyone to know which photos are real. Voila, problem solved.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    princessfrozen, Dec 7th, 2005 @ 10:05am

    Just a thought...

    Riya can identify people via facial recognition, if/when it works. Imagine if they were purchased by Google if you will. I can easily see a Google people search (powered by Riya) being integrated with the Google image search. Possibly a "find more people that look like this" button added on?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Jay, Dec 7th, 2005 @ 10:31am

    Re: Just a thought...

    Yeah. From a technology perspective, it's very cool software, even if it is in it's infancy. From a privacy/anonymity perspective, it creates a queasy feeling in the stomach. Someone could easily go down the path of cross-referencing images/names and start building up a timeline of where people have been. (Which could easily be used for Good or Bad.) Then, as PF said…add Google to that?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    haggie, Dec 7th, 2005 @ 10:32am

    No Subject Given

    Google? Ha! Think of your own government using that technology to track your every movement. If that happened, it would be really scary.

    Now I have to add a Groucho nose and glasses to my tinfoil hat...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Mark, Dec 7th, 2005 @ 10:55am

    Silly Wikipedia arguments

    Mike, I'm wondering -- what makes the "argument" over the fake Wikipedia bio "silly"? I personally think that public accusations of involvement in a political assassination are fairly serious. Since you've stepped up to defend Wikipedia on a number of occasions, I'd rather see a reasoned response to this story than just vague, dismissive hand-waving on the grounds that it's somehow "silly" to be accused of killing someone -- or maybe it's "silly" to be angry that someone has accused you of something like that?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    Mike (profile), Dec 7th, 2005 @ 11:37am

    Re: Silly Wikipedia arguments

    It's silly because there's nothing new in the debate. It's the same one that comes up every few months, but none of it changes the nature of Wikipedia. It's editable and the info may not be reliable. That's been true since day one. Why does everyone make a big deal of it when they discover it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Andrew Strasser, Dec 7th, 2005 @ 11:45am

    Re: No Subject Given

    Like they can't already do that. If they can see a pimple on your. Okay a hair on a Donkey then they can track your every move plus much more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    crystalattice (profile), Dec 7th, 2005 @ 1:47pm

    Perfect for porn

    Imagine being able to catagorize all your porn files automatically. If the tech could support it, you could make a DB listing not only the people, but even what's being depicted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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