Facebook recently changed its privacy settings to allow for facial recognition in photos — and the social-networking site did so quietly. Now, Bloomberg News reports that European Union officials are investigating the change.
Facebook Inc. will be probed by European Union data-protection regulators over a feature that uses face-recognition software to suggest people’s names to tag in pictures without their permission.
A group of privacy watchdogs drawn from the EU’s 27 nations will study the measure for possible rule violations, said Gerard Lommel, a Luxembourg member of the so-called Article 29 Data Protection Working Party. Authorities in the U.K. and Ireland said they are also looking into the photo-tagging function on the world’s most popular social-networking service. […]
Facebook said yesterday on its blog that “Tag Suggestions” are available in most countries after being phased in over several months. When a Facebook user adds a photo to their page, the feature uses facial-recognition software to suggest names of people in the photo to tag based on pictures in which they have already been identified. Before the feature was rolled out, users could tag pictures manually without permission from their Facebook friends.
The feature is active by default on existing users’ accounts […]
The U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office is “speaking to Facebook” about the privacy aspects of the technology, said Greg Jones, a spokesman for the group. […] The Irish data-protection authority is also looking into the issue, said spokeswoman Ciara O’Sullivan.