London Guardian 
Aug 4, 2011
Facebook is threatened with legal action in Germany over its facial recognition software, which critics say violates privacy and data protection laws.
The tool runs all photos uploaded to the social networking site through a programme and identifies the user’s friends on each picture. There was an outcry when it was rolled out in June to more than 500m members worldwide, though users can opt out of the automatic tagging, Facebook can still gather and store (indefinitely) all photos added to the site.
Now Hamburg’s data protection official has written to Facebook to demand it stops running the facial recognition programme on German users and deletes any related data. Johannes Caspar said the German authorities would take action if Facebook did not comply and could face fines of up to €300,000 (£262,000).
“Should Facebook maintain the function, it must ensure that only data from persons who have declared consent to the storage of their biometric facial profiles be stored in the database,” he said. The software offered potential for “considerable abuse” and was illegal.