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Privacy Alarm: Face Recognition Software Can Determine Your Social Security Number!
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Privacy Alarm: Face Recognition Software Can Determine Your Social Security Number!

While everyone in the social media industry is busy talking about sales and profit margins, computer science researchers at Carnegie Mellon have been conducting some groundbreaking research concerning new face recognition software that can match people on the street with their social media profiles. Are you freaking out already? Because alarmists in the news media are already beating the "they're taking away our privacy" drum. 

As futuristic as this may sound, a group of talanted researchers led by Professor Alessandro Acquisti from America's leading CS program have developed an augmented reality app that can match people seen through the viewfinder with their personal Facebook profiles. Suprisingly, the technology is so simple that it could be easily made available to virtually any smartphone user with any modern Android or iOS device. In the forseeable future this technology - already purchased by Google - could be used to allow Facebook to automatically tag friends in your pictures using a special kind of face recognition software. But the awesomeness and ingenuity of the face recognition technology also has a dark side to it: during the experiment the professor's team of postdocs managed to determine the Social Security numbers of 27% of all participants solely through face recognition. And that poses a whole series of challenging security questions. 

Should this face recognition technology be banned? Or should law enforcement and government officials have access to it? Obviously, it's going to be very difficult to prevent this technology from being readily available. In fact, the more people use social networks and tag people in their photos, the better the technology will get. In the day of machine learning, Facebook gives computer scientists a massive database with billions of pictures that they can use to perfect face recognition. 

So far Google hasn't made its face recognition public. And Facebook defends itself by saying that users were not forced to use an image of themselves on their profile page. 

What do you think about the face recognition technology? Is it time to start freaking out and deleting your real pictures from your social networks profiles?

Source: Carnegie Mellon

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