Privacy concerns impede spread of face-recognizing Facebook Moments app

Facebook’s got a new app out this week. Called Moments, the software for both iOS and Android streamlines how you share pictures with friends. It does this by going through an album of images, employing facial recognition technology to identify your friends, and suggesting you share your shots with the subjects pictured in them. It’s pretty straightforward, and right now the app’s available to users in the US, with plans for international expansion to follow. But it turns out that won’t include availability in Europe, as Facebook cites issues with privacy concerns.

Regulators have informed Facebook that for it to employ this sort of facial-recognition system in Europe, it has to design it as an opt-in scheme that users knowingly consent to participating in. Since Facebook doesn’t have something that works like that, it can’t bring Moments to Europe.

While the company leaves the door open for deploying such a system in the future, it’s not making any firm commitment to doing so, nor providing any kind of ETA for when that kind of effort might be able to be completed.

Are European regulators right to ask for strong privacy protections before allowing companies to identify people through facial recognition? Should the US be doing the same thing? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Stephen Schenck
Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen's first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he's convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he's not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bits Read more about Stephen Schenck!