This story comes from Slashdot. A startup Polar Rose is about to launch a face search tool.
Polar Rose relies on a combination of our unique face recognition algorithms and the collective intelligence of our users….we don’t and can’t rely exclusively on face recognition, but also harness the collective intelligence of our users who help train our software and tag names on people we haven’t seen before.
We will open up for a royalty-free use of our API’s, which will allow for partners to integrate the Polar Rose functionality into existing sites or create stand-alone applications of Polar Rose, for example:
* A news site that wants to let users help tag photos, and link stories together based on who appears in photos.
* A photo-sharing site that wants to let users automatically tag new uploads, and search and sort archives based on the people in a photo.
* A social networking or dating site that wants to wants to help users find more pictures of a person, elsewhere on the net or just in the photos of the person’s friends.
The only significant requirements we put for the use of the APIs, is that the Polar Rose signature rose is used, and data that users generate is passed back to us on a non-exclusive basis. The reason being that every piece of data helps train our engine.
Some have privacy concerns. I certainly do – when Riya was pitching similar face recongintion for a flickr like tool I was creeped out. They are now doing a visual search engine so you can put in a purse or boot that you like and it searches for purses and boots like that.
Privacy concerns from New Scientist:
Polar Rose and future developments that make facial recognition available to the masses risk encroaching on people’s privacy, warns Yaman Akdeniz, director of the UK non-profit group Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties.
“Although this sounds like a great idea, I would not like to be searchable in this way, or so easily tracked without my consent,” says Akdeniz. The database compiled by Polar Rose is similar to the kind of biometric database some governments wish to use, he points out.
“I wonder whether they have a right to build such a database,” says Akdeniz, he suggests people think twice before embracing such potentially intrusive tools, and consider which photos of themselves they allow online.
Others agree. Simon Davies, director of the campaign group Privacy International and a specialist in technology and privacy at the London School of Economics, UK, says face-searching technology is valuable but must be used responsibly.
He fears Polar Rose could help identity thieves or stalkers, or even be used by the police to monitor protesters. “They could use the service to find where people have been, what their activities are, or who they associate with,” he says.
Search engines should allow users to prevent their photos being searched, says Davies. “There should be a way to put code in a webpage that signals you want to opt out,” he told New Scientist.