Scientists warn face recognition searches pose 'ominous' privacy risk | 26Set2011 17:10:32


Scary: Carnegie Mellon's Alessandro Acquisti shows how to use
Facebook to ID people on dating sites and on the street

Facial recognition from a webcam can be matched against Facebook photos and produce positive identification in three seconds.

Computer based facial recognition will pose a serious threat to people's privacy in the near future, according to a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University.

Alessandro Acquisti, who undertook the work with partial funding from the U.S. Army, made the comments after conducting experiemnts using nothing more than a webcam enabled PC and access to Facebook.

Presenting the results at the Black Hat computer security conference in Las Vegas, Acquisti said: 'Facial visual searches may become as common as today's text-based searches.'

In collaboration with fellow researchers Ralph Gross and Fred Stutzman, the team set up a computer, webcam and facial regognition software at the university.

Using willing participants, the team asked random participants to peer into the camera and have their faces scanned.

Using a database of 5,000 publically available student Facebook profile pictures, the recognition software was able to correctly guess the face in 31 per cent of cases - most in under threes seconds.

The team also created software for the iPhone that scanned sites such as facebook to come up with a positive match and corresponding vital statistics of the subject.

According to Acquisti widespread facial recognition poses an 'ominous risks for privacy' as publicaly available databases could allow anyone to bring up a persons real name and other information using only a quick face shot.(

Tag your friends: Facebook's new facial recognition technology has
raised the hackles of privacy campaigners

According to website CNET, the university researchers also compared 277,978 Facebook profiles against 6,000 profiles from an on-line dating

The team were able to match 1 in 10 of the site's members with their real names

In June Facebook was at the centre of another privacy row after it brought in facial recognition technology to automatically identify users in pictures.

The world's leading social network began rolling out new technology that automatically identifies and 'tags' people in photos uploaded to the website.

The feature has been expanded from a limited test run in the U.S. to be widened across all of the States and 'most countries', Facebook said on its official blog yesterday - and, by default, it's turned on.

By Daily Mail Reporter
6th August 2011


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