Unlike anything we’ve seen since the convergence of digital photography, an historic threat is underway. It is causing the leading photo-sharing apps to be embroiled in, and under fire by tagging people in pictures. Facebook ‘faces’ an escalation in the multi-billion dollar class action lawsuit over whether the photo-sharing social media app illegally violated users’ privacy by sharing pictures without explicit consent.
As a nearly 30-year technologist innovator and disruptor in the photo imaging industry, ScanMyPhotos champions the need for MORE data collection restrictions, algorithmic controls and auditing transparency requirements for Facebook on how it harvests photo data [“Why Not to Upload Pictures to Facebook“]. But, in the case of photo-tagging, we stand with Facebook.
Storytelling cannot be accomplished without implementing photo-tagging, image recognition technology. This technology is the lifeblood and centerpiece of sharing and tagging pictures.
Since the dawn of photography, analog photo tagging predated biometric facial-recognition.
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 photos or have accidentally stumbled into the frame. Now, with biometric facial recognition (BFR) algorithms, companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook are able to identify these “photobombing” faces across the web—yet, this smart way to organize and share pictures is dredging up privacy concerns.
Peter Blumberg and Stephanie Bodoni at Bloomberg wrote: “Facebook Has a Long History of Resolving Privacy Claims on the Cheap.”
“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.
Many countries are already using deep data collection using facial recognition without the risk of litigation. Take the surveillance cameras sitting atop over 100,000 lampposts in Singapore to instantly recognize faces in crowds, or similar systems in place at casinos, yet privacy concerns abound.
While the privacy implications are concerning, there are also more incontrovertible benefits 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 strangers’ photo.
“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 tracking history through photos. This is why we are rallying consumers, the tech and photo industries to also support this advocacy campaign,” said Goldstone.
This (Sept 21, 2017) Chicago Tribune story by Ally Marotti, provides smart insights and an update on the litigation against Shutterfly. Excerpt:
That has been one of the most-watched suits taking on the biometrics issue. Three Illinois men allege Facebook was collecting, storing and using biometric data without consent. Facebook’s attempt to get the lawsuit dismissed was denied. Some say these types of lawsuits allege damage without evidence of actual harm.
As these antiquated privacy laws are being challenged, leading tech-industry giants like 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.
5 Solutions to the Photo-Tagging Controversy
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 opt-in/opt-out enrollment policy for people to easily select using a facial-recognition program.
4) Prohibit the trading, selling or profiting from any biometric information that violates Terms of Service privacy provisions.
5) From the new class-action litigation regarding photo-tagging, Facebook and others must provide an option for free data wiping to resolve this photo tagging issue.
While we are advocates of biometrics and the capabilities it has to offer—particularly in terms of photo organization and history preservation—we are opening up the dialogue so others can voice their support as well.
About the author: ScanMyPhotos, founded in 1990, is an e-commerce photo digitization service that scanned more than 500 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, and which we fully support its use.
It is nearly magic as we digitize upwards of 300,000 each day. Here is how our banks of professional photo digitizing equipment scans your photos from our Irvine, Calif headquarters. Click to watch.
We are often asked how best to preserve and safeguard pictures once everything is digitized. The two-word simple answer is the free storage site, Google Photos, where all your photos are safely backed up and organized so you can find them fast, and share those decades past memories.
PC Magazine’s feature’s editor, Eric Griffith published a primer on “Tricks to Master Google Photos, and we’re sharing some of Eric’s best tips for you.
The Power of Google Photos To Organize Your Pictures [excerpt]
- Play With Search: You should definitely search in Google Photos, using terms common and obscure. Google’s auto-tagging of images is pretty amazing.
- Pinch to Change Your View: Pinching or expanding your two fingers on a single image to zoom in or out is standard. Google Photos lets you change the look of the entire mobile app by pinching, so you can zoom from “comfortable view” all the way out to the by-year view, with stops at days and months in between.
- Quick Select Pics: Hold your finger on a picture to select, then just start dragging your finger and all the pictures you touch will be selected.
- Apply the Same Edits to Multiple Shots: If you’ve perfected the edits on one image, you can apply it to a bunch of them.
- Back Up With Wi-Fi Only: In the mobile apps, you can turn off “Photos (or Videos) back up using cellular data” in the settings under Back up & sync. It’s a good idea for those with a limited data plan.
- OUR FAVORITE TIP: Recover Items for 60 Days: Deleted an image you want back? Go to the menu (on mobile or web), and select Trash. Your deleted images hang out here for a couple of months before they’re truly gone.
The Fall edition of CNET Magazine features (page 30) a profile on how to reduce clutter and share nostalgic memories by digitizing your entire collection of decades-past photos. Among the methods profiled is to have a professional bulk photo scanning service do all the laborious work for you.
LET SOMEONE ELSE SCAN YOUR PHOTOS
If all of this sounds like a giant head-ache, consider outsourcing your photo scanning to a paid service. For Example, ScanMyPhotos.com scans … your photos starting at 16 cents apiece, depending on the scan quality you choose. Alternatively, the company can send you a box to fill up that it scans for a flat rate [including free 3-way S/H] for $145. According to ScanMyPhotos, the flat-rate box typically holds 1,800 photos.
150dpi Photo Scanning Is The New Norm
Today, ScanMyPhotos.com announced the results of a 3 month study of 940 consumers who had their pictures digitized. The results of their top use is no surprise, as 81% of all analog photos scanned are just used for social media sharing.
Archiving and photo preservation has taken a less aggressive role, as people are mostly using pictures to share. The takeaway is that the once standard 600 dpi high resolution quality is not as necessary today.
The Race To Digitize Pictures Is On
This is big news for Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and the leading photo-sharing app, Google Photos. Most people were just uploading recent pictures captured from smartphone devices, yet there are 3 1/2 trillion analog snapshots which are not yet digitized. With the advent of bulk photo scanning, the race to digitize has taken on new urgency and dimensions.
DPI (Dots Per Inch) or PPI (Pixels Per Inch) relates to the number of device pixels per inch (pixel density). The higher the number, the smaller the size of the pixels, so graphics are perceived as more crisp and less pixelated. Good quality printing uses around 300dpi which is higher than most displays. But, most smartphone devices, messaging apps, like WhatsApp, and computer monitors demand a much lower and often compressed file size.
Therefore, for the 81% of people just digitizing pictures, today, the new norm is 150dpi. ScanMyPhotos.com provides all three services, from social media scanning at 150dpi, to 300 dpi for archival scanning, and the ultra high professional 600dpi quality scanning. If you are not enlarging your pictures, most people just need 150 or 300dpi scans today.
Details and how to order 150, 300, and 600dpi professional scans are provided at ScanMyPhotos.com