Data privacy officials in Germany have reopened a probe to look deeper at Facebook’s face recognition technology and determine if the social networking giant was collecting member photos without their knowledge.
In June, an investigation into Facebook’s database of pictures — led by data protection commissioner Johannes Casper in Hamburg, was suspended after he said he would give Facebook time to update its policies. After several attempts and no updates, Casper is now reopening the investigation according to The New York Times. He believes that Facebook has been illegally collecting face-recognition data about its members in order to populate its photo tag suggest feature.
However, Facebook told Mashable that the feature is in line with the protection laws in Europe.
“We believe that the photo tag suggest feature on Facebook is fully compliant with EU data protection laws,” a Facebook spokesperson told Mashable. “During our continuous dialogue with our supervisory authority in Europe, the Office of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, we agreed to develop a best practice solution to notify people on Facebook about photo tag suggest.”
Facebook’s facial-recognition software can sense who is in your pictures and make tagging suggestions. Rather than opting in to the feature, it is rolled out to all accounts and must be opted out if the user chooses to do so.
This was one of several features under scrutiny last year by data protection officials in Ireland. It underwent an audit to see if was legal to obtain this information. Facebook agreed to notify its users in Europe about the photo suggest feature.
Following Facebook’s acquisition of facial-recognition software company Face.com for an undisclosed amount of money in June, some users have expressed concern that the expansion of this type of technology on the social network could encroach on their privacy rights. Facebook hasn’t said what its future plans are for Face.com or its technology.