Today I stumbled upon an article from Fast Company about some work by Carnegie Mellon researchers using commercially available facial recognition software, cloud computing resources and open data feeds to identify people and possibly get access to their social security numbers.
“A person’s face is the veritable link between her offline and online identities,” said Acquisti, associate professor of information technology and public policy at the Heinz College and a Carnegie Mellon CyLab researcher. “When we share tagged photos of ourselves online, it becomes possible for others to link our face to our names in situations where we would normally expect anonymity.”
As I read the article, I am thinking of Minority Report and the retina recognition and pushing ads to people. Kind of like Google Ad Words following you and pushing advertisements to you on digital billboards. I don’t think it is too far off, I was using Google Plus the other day looking through a photo album posted by a friend, and the software was able to identify facial regions of a person and was asking me to tag the picture with the person’s name.
I can only imagine what information might be able to be tied together if a face becomes the primary key to your personal data.
“Ultimately, all this access is going to force us to reconsider our notions of privacy,” Acquisti said. “It may also affect how we interact with each other. Through natural evolution, human beings have evolved mechanisms to assign and manage trust in face-to-face interactions. Will we rely on our instincts or on our devices, when mobile phones can predict personal and sensitive information about a person?”
Now that social media sites are allowing geotagged photos, this information can now tie you to a place as well as identify who you associate with or what your preferences are.
The full results of the study will be released today at Black Hat today (8/4/11).