Despite a myriad of controversy over the last few months, Facebook has moved ahead with its unsettling facial recognition software now available for European users.
So far, this new update has only been presented to certain users with the option to opt into it. The company does, however, have plans to eventually present the feature to all European users, followed by the rest of the world.
Facebook’s decision to begin introducing facial recognition in Europe is somewhat strange given its last attempted to do so ended rather poorly for the company. A 2012 ruling prohibited the company from using its facial recognition programs for automatically tagging users in photos, forcing them to remove the feature for the entirety of the EU. Now that it is an opt-in feature, however, things are apparently all clear.
Part of this roll out seems to be trying to preempt the new EU GDPR data protection standard regulations, themselves partly spurred on by Facebook’s own manipulative tactics to collect user data. Rather than quietly making changes to take more and more information on its userbase, Facebook is now trying to convince users to opt into the facial recognition program with fears of strangers impersonating them with their photos.
This is important, as the EU’s new regulations prohibit the company or any others from automatically opting their customers into facial recognition or other biometric scanning programs. This sort of manipulative language can easily scare people into consenting to this sort of program without thinking it through.
There may be good news to this, however, as TechCrunch consulted with data experts recently on whether or not this kind of strategy would be legal under the GDPR regulations. According to these experts, what Facebook is doing greatly pushes the limits of what can be defined as “informed consent”, making it dubious at best if not outright illegal. Essentially, the company should expect more legal trouble to come should they move forward on this plan.