Does Facial Recognition Trump Privacy?

Growing concerns with biometric software

When it comes to privacy and biometric software, Beth Givens doesn't mince words.

"I consider facial recognition biometrics to be one of the top privacy issues of our time," said Givens.

She is the executive director of Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a San Diego based non-profit that has been monitoring privacy issues for more than 25 years.

Facial recognition has really come into its own over that time. Some are using it to replace password log-ins, others are using it for security, while Facebook uses it to "tag" photographs with the names of people in the picture.

Facebook has said that it enchances the user experience, but it does that without getting permission and that bothers Beth Givens.

"There should be an affirmative yes to your name being attached to a photo," said Givens. Right now you need to opt-out of the recognition program. You must go into the "Timeline Settings" to disable the face recognition feature. But it's important to note that the only people who see the "tag" suggestions are users who are already in that person's friends list.

Still, Tony Elliott and his wife Kari, from Missouri, think they should be asked first.

"I would like to be able to give permission for something like that," said Tony Elliott.

By one estimate, Facebook has 250 billion pictures with 350 million added every day.

Beth Givens says laws in two states along with Europe and Canada require prior permission for facial recognition tagging or shutting off the feature all together.

Givens says she would like Facebook users to get notification every time someone wants to tag them in a picture. As for prior permission?

"To me it's a no brainer," said Givens, "It needs to be opt-in."

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