Published On: Thu, Apr 2nd, 2015

Illinois Suit Claims Facebook Facial Recognition Technology Violates Privacy Laws

Back in 2010, Facebook added to its features the “tag suggestions, ” which uses facial recognition technology to match people's new photos to older photos in which the same people had been tagged.

Facebook’s facial recognition

Carlo Licata, a resident of Cook County, is taking Facebook to court over its facial recognition software, which the suit claims violates Illinois privacy laws, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Licata says Facebook “secretly amassed the world’s largest privately held database of consumer biometrics data, ” and so has violated state law by not informing him in writing that his biometric data was being collected, stored, or whether or not and when it would be destroyed.

Back in 2010, Facebook added to its features the “tag suggestions, ” which uses facial recognition technology to match people’s new photos to older photos in which the same people had been tagged.

Licata’s lawsuit claims that he has been tagged in photos by friends, but had never given permission for Facebook to collect or store his biometric data. Additionally, he hadn’t been asked for his consent in making his image public.

Licata’s attorney says he will argue that Facebook’s so called privacy settings, where user can prevent his or her being tagged in photos, would be useless in this case:

“If he changed the privacy setting, that wouldn’t change anything because [Facebook] had taken his data and they’re holding on to it. There’s no delete button.”

Also, the attorney argued that in case of a data breach, his client would be helpless to recover his images and prevent their illegal use.

A Facebook spokeswoman said in an email Wednesday that the lawsuit is baseless.

According to Sebastian Anthony, writing for ExtremeTech, Facebook’s facial recognition research project, DeepFace, is almost as accurate as the human brain.

“DeepFace can look at two photos, and irrespective of lighting or angle, can say with 97.25% accuracy whether the photos contain the same face. Humans can perform the same task with 97.53% accuracy.

According to Anthony, the DeepFace software, developed by the Facebook AI research group in Menlo Park, California, is underpinned by an advanced deep learning neural network—software that simulates a basic approximation of how real neurons work.

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