Facebook offers opt-in facial recognition technology to UK users

Facebook has offered facial recognition technology to UK users as an opt-in feature

Facebook has started asking UK users to use the optional facial recognition technology which is used on other images they are tagged in, to make tagging suggestions in other photos. The technology uses software that create a “template” of a user’s face based on other images they are tagged in. The social network has started to ask UK account holders to allow the platform to use facial recognition technology – which will then identify them in pictures and videos posted on the site.

The move from the social network comes at a time when it is already facing a data privacy scandal linked to political research firm Cambridge Analytica.

Earlier, Facebook removed the feature in the EU in 2012 following protests from regulators and privacy advocates, which will now be offered as an opt-in feature in Europe ahead of the rollout of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The new EU data privacy laws are scheduled to be implemented in the EU which will give users more control on the way their personal information is used.

Other privacy features offered by the social network include user’s choice over adverts shown to them based on data from Facebook partners and sharing of users’ political, religious and relationship information on their profile.

Users can opt for these features by selecting an “accept and continue” option or reject the feature by selecting a “manage data setting” option.

Facebook said in a blog post that in recent weeks it has announced several steps to give people more control over their privacy and explain how it uses data. Today it is introducing new privacy experiences for everyone on Facebook as part of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), including updates to its terms and data policy. It said that everyone, irrespective of where they live, will be asked to review important information about how Facebook uses data and make choices about their privacy on Facebook. The social network will begin by rolling these choices out in Europe this week. As soon as GDPR was finalised, it realised that it was an opportunity to invest even more heavily in privacy. It not only wants to comply with the law, but also go beyond its obligations to build new and improved privacy experiences for everyone on Facebook.

But privacy campaigners are not convinced by the company’s actions.

Director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, Silkie Carlo said biometric identification and tracking across the billions of photos on the platform exacerbates serious privacy risks to users. Facebook now has a duty to prove it has learned how to respect the law, not to prove it can take its surveillance capabilities to new depths. In the wake of Facebook’s recent scandal, this is a woefully misguided and dangerous plan.

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