ScanMyPhotos.com launches advocacy campaign supporting image recognition biometric tools championed by popular photo-sharing services. #SupportBFR
While the practice of photobombing has become a social and cultural phenomenon lately, the practice itself isn’t anything new.
Since the advent of the camera, people have either intentionally tried to appear in someone else’s photo or have accidentally stumbled into the frame. Now, with biometric facial recognition (BFR) algorithms, companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, and Shutterfly, may soon be able to identify these photobombing faces across the web—and the potential is dredging up privacy concerns.
“When you consider the 3.5 trillion analog photos and billions of more recent digital pictures in existence, our images—in some form or another—may be entrapped in a stranger’s photo album without consent. If a person walks through the background of a tourist’s snapshot, facial recognition software may recognize the face and tag the person’s name to that picture. That photo can then be shared across the internet—with the person’s name attached, and without their permission to share it,” said Mitch Goldstone, president & CEO, ScanMyPhotos.com.
While the privacy implications are concerning, there are also many positives to this technology. The ability to detect a person’s image in the background of a photo could help historians make a number of connections. If, for example, an individual is researching his personal family ancestry, facial recognition could help him find photos of his great, great grandmother smiling in a (seemingly) complete stranger’s photo.
It’s for reasons like this, and many others, that ScanMyPhotos.com supports the benefits and legitimacy of biometric image-recognition tools.
Just as the tech industry has rallied together in defense of Apple’s encryption litigation, ScanMyPhotos.com is today launching a similar nationwide advocacy campaign in support of image-recognition biometric tools championed by Shutterfly, Facebook, and the popular photo-sharing apps, including Google Photos.
“Helping to electronically organize photographs is a critical issue. It is enjoyed by millions, and the benefits are staggeringly beneficial. With facial recognition technology, we can vastly improve our history through photos. This is why we are rallying consumers and the tech industry to also support this advocacy campaign,” said Goldstone.
As these antiquated privacy laws are being challenged, leading tech-industry giants like Shutterfly, Facebook and Google Photos hail new facial-recognition tools to help identify pictures. Restricting this collection and storage of biometric “faceprint” data falls outside the margins of intellectual property rules. The image-recognition tools are scanning photographs, not actually biometric face and body scans. It is just identifying people, places and things within vintage photographs.
This is different from other uses of biometrics, such as iBeacon which uses smartphone transmissions to identify people and send them marketing messages. Tagging a person in a photograph should not be considered in violation of privacy rights. There is no malice or intent to harm anyone by identifying physical characteristics, but rather a fun and easy way to organize your lifetime of photo memories.
Yet, while we could argue both sides of the debate, there are several smart solutions that could be used to protect people’s privacy. Some options include:
1) When collecting and retaining biometric identifiers, people should have an easy way to opt-out. A simple one-touch button should be accessible on every electrically stored picture to permanently and universally remove and untag your images if identified within that photograph.
3) Have a manual, rather than automatic enrollment policy for people to select using a facial-recognition program.
4) Prohibit the trading, selling or profiting from any biometric information that violates Terms of Service privacy provisions.
While we’re advocates of biometrics and the capabilities it has to offer—particularly in terms of photo organization and history preservation—we’re opening up the dialogue so others can voice their support as well. Join the #SupportBFR discussion on Twitter today and help us voice the positive aspects to biometric facial recognition.
About the author: ScanMyPhotos, founded in 1990, is an e-commerce photo digitization service that scanned more than 300 million analog pictures. To help organize and identify these lifetimes of newly digitized pictures, people are widely enjoying photo-sharing services and the magic-like assistance from image-recognition tools, which we fully support its use.
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