Recent reports say that the Data Protection Authority in Hamburg, Germany, has sent a letter to Facebook demanding that it obtain user permission before identifying users through facial recognition tools.
The current requirement on Facebook is that users who do not want to be recognized opt out of the service, and it asks that it be made the default, at least in Germany.
Facebook has been given two weeks to respond to the request before facing a $427,000 fine.
The seriousness of the problem of facial recognition was highlighted yesterday at a hacker’s conference in Las Vegas. Professor Alessandro Acquisti of Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz College led a team of researchers in an experiment in which they were able to use existing facial recognition technology to match random photographs of people taken with their phones to their Facebook profiles and gain access to everything from their names and dates of birth to their social security numbers.
“Soon, anyone may run face recognition anywhere,” he said. “It raises the issue of what privacy will mean.”