Thoughts, information and reflections about technology

Goodbye privacy – Phone app recognizes your face

A new app for phones should make you a bit paranoid about your security and safety. Essentially, it will recognize faces from pics of total strangers. The app then searches social networking sites such as Facebook and looks for matches.

For details see the Sun Article . The site for the developers of Recognizr is at here

Currently the software is a prototype and people need to opt in for it to be able to recognize them. However the implications are creepy at best. It would be possible to run the same kind of search on people who have not opted in to the service. Perhaps Recognizr would always be opt in but that doesn’t stop other developers from designing a more intrusive system.

This tool can easily be used for nefarious purposes. Some examples would be

  • We currently have someone in our neighborhood who has been trying to lure children into his vehicle. An app like this would allow him to snap a photo and find detailed information that could be used to more effectively lure a child.
  • Someone could simply go around a resort snapping pictures and thereby determining whose homes are probably vacant at the time.
  • If you go to a protest such as a Tea Party, government officials could compile a list of attendees with only a moderate amount of effort. Say hello to a tax audit.

There are some measures that might offer protection. One barrier would be the extent to which social networking sites allow non individual users (databases) to mine their photos and information. An individual measure would be to not place photos of your face in social networking sites. Consider trying to tell your kids not to post on facebook and not allow any of their friends to post their pictures on their facebook or myspace pages and you realize how futile this would be.

I suppose though that the final barrier against stalkers would be a 1911 with hollow points.

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