EU to probe Facebook over facial-recognition tech rollout


8 Jun 2011

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Data protection regulators from the European Union will investigate Facebook after it rolled out its facial-recognition feature and set it by default without telling its users.

According to Bloomberg, Gerard Lommel, Luxembourg member of the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, said such a feature should only activate when a person gives consent and shouldn’t do so by default.

Lommel said the group will clarify to Facebook that “this can’t happen like this.”

The feature was designed to reduce time needed to tag photos by recognising the faces of people within pictures uploaded to the site.

It started rolling out to certain countries yesterday, however, this met criticism as the social networking giant did not inform members of the launch and seemingly set it to default without telling them.

“Unfortunately, once again, Facebook seems to be sharing personal information by default. Many people feel distinctly uncomfortable about a site like Facebook learning what they look like, and using that information without their permission,” said security blogger Graham Cluley from Sophos.

In response to the criticism, Facebook posted a blog announcing the new service and, according to the BBC, apologised for how it was rolled out.

A Facebook spokesperson said it should have done more to notify its members about the launch.