News Column

Facebook Disables Facial Recognition Feature in EU

Sept. 21, 2012

Facebook on Friday disabled its controversial facial recognition feature in the Europe Union, following criticism from government regulators and privacy advocates.

The world's largest online social network has already switched off the feature for new users and has now agreed to delete all data used by the software to identify members by October 15.

Richard Allan, Facebook's head of European operations, told dpa the feature could be reinstated at a future date once changes are made.

"We still believe that we can offer face recognition in Europe legally," Allan said.

The feature, which Facebook turned on by default, was designed to help users tag their friend in photos by automatically identifying people in it.

Germany's Office of Data Protection and Freedom of Information has argued the software is illegal under European law because it has allowed the company to create a vast biometric database of it users, which is at risk of being misused.

Ireland's office of the Data Protection Commissioner, which has oversight over Facebook's European operations because of its base in the country, recommended last year that the company make changes to the tagging tool.

Friday's decision has no impact on the function for users outside of Europe.

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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