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Germany Is Freaking Out About Facebook’s Facial Recognition Feature

Kashmir Hill
Forbes [1]
Aug 17, 2012

Last year, when Facebook [2] first started rolling out its facial recognition-based photo-tagging feature in Europe, our friends across the Atlantic flipped out [3]. Angry words were said. Investigations were launched. Facebook abstention was threatened.

This all seemed to be somewhat resolved after Ireland’s Data Protection Agency launched a big investigation into the social networking company — because its European headquarters are in Dublin — and determined that, under E.U. law, Facebook could make the biometric face-prints of its members, but that it had to give users more prominent notice and the chance to opt out [4]. Facebook suspended its “Tag Suggest” and face-printing of all European users who joined after July 1st until it comes up with a notification process that pleases the Irish.

All settled, right? Nein, says Germany. Hamburg data protection commissioner Johannes Caspar disagrees with Ireland. He argues that under E.U. law, Facebook doesn’t have a right to break out its facial recog software on users and put their face-prints on file without their explicit opt-in consent. (For what it’s worth, States-side, Sen. Al Franken has suggested the same thing [5]. Norway is also not completely down with it [6].) The New York Times reports [7] that Caspar will make “a formal request” to Facebook to “destroy its photographic database of faces collected in Germany and revise its Web site to obtain the explicit consent of members before it creates a digital file based on the biometric data of their faces.”

Facebook doesn’t seem to be backing down.

Full article here [1]