Threat to privacy or useful innovation?

June 29, 2016

findfaceWe live in the world when everything is changing rapidly, especially technologies. Only yesterday we coudn’t imagine how it would be easy to communicate being far apart or even work remotely, but today we can control household units using voice commands. On the one hand, it really simplifies our life allowing not to waste time. On the other hand, there are some drawbacks concerning up-to-date gimmicks. It becomes much more difficult to escape recognition as nowadays everybody got involved in social network life. Speaking of which, you should know the latest news regarding your privacy.

Have you ever heard about the application FindFace? It’s a programme connected with the identification of human faces by means of photos. It does so by matching the photos against profile pictures from Vkontakte, a Russian social networking website similar to Facebook. The purpose of it is to get acquainted with an unknown man. It makes acquaintance easier, as you know all of us are too shy for doing it. But at the same time it threatens our privacy.

How does it work? Firstly you should find an unknown man you like and then photograph him. Next, you upload the photo to the application which has an enormous database of pictures from Vkontakte and it searches for the most appropriate faces which look similar. FindFace is developed by a company called NTech Lab. Honestly speaking, the top-of-the-line programme isn’t anything new, as there’s Google’s facial recognition algorithm which has been an opponent in an international competition at the University of Washington. The real innovation that makes FindFace such a threat to privacy is its database.

Let us think you don’t mind your photos being hit as it is performed by the programme, not by the people. But you should know after finding your name and contact information will be revealed.

All Vkontakte profile pictures exist in open view. It means anybody can find your photos and information dedicated to it on the Internet. The only way to avoid publicity is to delete your profile losing all of the updates, photos and messages. Or you can be reconciled to a fact you’re in the limelight. Whether it is a negative or positive meaning you should decide for yourself.

Could someone do the same thing to Facebook? Probably not. FindFace has the pictures in the database by siphoning them out of Vkontake. As for Facebook, Twitter and Google the sites usually ban “automated data collection”, strengthen privacy settings, implementrobust anti-siphoning protections. If you start to load too many pages too quickly, you’ll be restricted and the access’ll cut off.

Facebook doesn’t provide a way to hide your profile from the public at large, which would be the most basic defense against the risk of a FindFace clone. It only allows to change something in your photo, for example, resolution or colour for not being distinctly recognized by FindFace.

There’re some cases when a user has two pages on the site simultaneously. It means you have a doppelganger. In this case it becomes the processing more difficult for the application. And if you really are unique, Facebook could offer to blur the photo and lower the resolution until you fade into the crowd.

On the whole every medal has its reverse, so you should define it for yourself to admit it or not.