News

Science & Tech

Consumer Groups Allege Facebook’s Facial-Recognition Feature Violates Privacy Law

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the annual Facebook F8 developers conference in San Jose, Calif., April 18, 2017. (Stephen Lam/Reuters)

A coalition of consumer watchdog groups filed a complaint with federal regulators Friday, alleging Facebook’s facial-recognition software violates privacy law.

The complaint, filed with the Federal Trade Commission, comes just days after the social-media giant revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a Trump-connected data-consulting firm, accessed the personal information of some 87 million users. The consumer groups, led by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, targets a feature that uses complex software to identify an individual’s face in a photograph before listing the person’s name in “tag suggestions.”

Facebook “routinely scans photos for biometric facial matches without the consent of the image subject,” the complaint alleges.

Facebook defended the feature in a statement provided to the Wall Street Journal in response to the complaint.

“Our face-recognition technology helps people manage their identity on Facebook and makes our features work better for people who are visually impaired,” said Rob Sherman, Facebook’s deputy chief privacy officer. “People can choose whether or not to allow this technology and they can change their mind at any time. When someone has their setting turned off, we don’t use this technology to identify them in photos.”

CEO Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to testify before lawmakers next week. The FTC has already opened an investigation into the leak, which was facilitated by a European professor who obtained the data lawfully before selling it to Cambridge Analytica. The complaint filed Friday calls on the FTC to investigate the facial-recognition feature, stop any privacy violations, and provide “appropriate remedies” to users.

Most Popular

Immigration

Angela Rye Knows You’re Racist

The political philosopher Michael Oakeshott said that the “rationalist” is hopelessly lost in ideology, captivated by the world of self-contained coherence he has woven from strands of human experience. He concocts a narrative about narratives, a story about stories, and adheres to the “large outline which ... Read More
Immigration

What the Viral Border-Patrol Video Leaves Out

In an attempt to justify Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s absurd comparison of American detention facilities to Holocaust-era concentration camps, many figures within the media have shared a viral video clip of a legal hearing in which a Department of Justice attorney debates a panel of judges as to what constitutes ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Pro-Abortion Nonsense from John Irving

The novelist has put up a lot of easy targets in his New York Times op-ed. I am going to take aim at six of his points, starting with his strongest one. First: Irving asserts that abortion was legal in our country from Puritan times until the 1840s, at least before “quickening.” That’s an overstatement. ... Read More
Film & TV

Murder Mystery: An Old Comedy Genre Gets Polished Up

I  like Adam Sandler, and yet you may share the sense of trepidation I get when I see that another of his movies is out. He made some very funny manboy comedies (Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy) followed by some not-so-funny manboy comedies, and when he went dark, in Reign over Me and Funny People, ... Read More