Privacy fears over Facebook’s new 'face print' recognition technology
10 July 2018 17:10 GMT

Privacy groups have warned of fears around Facebook's biometric technology.

The social network rolled out the technology earlier this year in the EU – but privacy advocates have warned that users may not be aware of what it actually does.

Jennifer Lynch of digital privacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation said, ‘Facebook tries to explain their practices in ways that make Facebook look like the good guy, that they are somehow protecting your privacy.

‘But it doesn’t get at the fact that they are scanning every photo.’

The New York Times points out that the launch comes at a time when Facebook is facing scrutiny over its data privacy practices in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Facebook announced that it was rolling out the feature – which is opt-in – in Spring.

The software will allow the social network to recognise people in pictures, letting their friends tag them online.

The technology is already used in the US to tag people in photos, but Facebook was forced to drop similar plans for EU users in 2011 after protests from privacy campaigners and regulators.

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Facebook introduced the opt-in ahead of GDPR – but not all experts are convinced that the ‘biometric’ technology complies with the terms of the regulations.

Facebook says, ‘We’ll let you know when someone else uploads a photo of you as their profile picture. We’re doing this to prevent people from impersonating others on Facebook.

‘You’ll hear from us if you’re in a photo and are part of the audience, even if you haven’t been tagged. You can choose whether to tag yourself, leave yourself untagged, or reach out to the person who posted the photo if you have concerns about it.

‘Finally, we’ll make it easier for people with visual impairments to get more out of Facebook. Now, with face recognition, visually impaired people who use screen readers will know who appears in photos in their News Feed even if people aren’t tagged.’