Facial recognition technology is one of those hot-button issues that is probably only going to become more so in the near future as the tech is refined and becomes more widespread.
As you can imagine, with so much attention focused on it there is a market desire on the part of government agencies and security firms to have robust facial recognition technology but privacy advocates think this is just another step in the wrong direction as far as how integrated surveillance tech is into our daily lives.
An interesting conundrum in the development of facial recognition technology is that it needs faces to use to develop its capabilities and, as long as these are obtained ethically and legally, no one can really complain. But when a company gets facial data surreptitiously then it isn’t just the public that has a problem – the government doesn’t like it as well. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found that Paravision AI did just that, using user uploaded photos to train its facial recognition software without telling people that would be happening.
Paravision got the data from its cloud storage service called Ever and it used the data derived from user-submitted photos to develop facial recognition algorithms that it then sold to third-parties, DP Review reports. Initially billed as a free cloud storage option, the company pivoted to data harvesting in order to help pad its bottom line after weaker-than-expected revenues from its primary service. This cloud-storage service even allowed users to tag their friends and family that appeared in the photos – an option enabled by default except for in areas where personal data is protected such as the European Union.
The company even kept deleted user account photos in a database in contravention of its own policies. The FTC ordered Paravision AI to delete all of this data as well as any technology derived from it though it did not impose any fines. Since the incident, Paravision AI has hired an ethics officer to help them figure out why you shouldn’t keep someone’s photos after they’ve deleted their account or analyze them without their permission DP Review notes.
You can read the full ruling here.
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