NewsThe End of Privacy

Unmasked

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Science  30 Jan 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6221, pp. 492-494
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6221.492

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Summary

It's hard for a machine to pluck your face out of a crowd. If you appear in a photo taken at a protest march, an abortion clinic, or a gay bar, for example, your anonymity is safe—for the time being. Unless a computer has been tasked to look for you and it has already trained on dozens of photos of your face—and the quality of the images you appear in is excellent—there is little chance that it will spot you. Nor is it yet possible for a computer to search the Internet for all photos in which your face appears, unless you are named in captions. But within the walled garden of Facebook, which contains by far the largest collection of personal photographs in the world, the technology for universal facial recognition is beginning to blossom.