Facebook aims for facial recognition consent in EU and Canada

Posted Apr 19, 2018 by Tim Sandle
Facebook has begun the process of asking its European and Canadian users to allow the social media giant to use facial recognition technology. This is for the purpose of identifying users in photos and videos.
Russia has warned Facebook it may be banned before the end of the year
Russia has warned Facebook it may be banned before the end of the year
Mladen ANTONOV, AFP/File
Facial recognition software, and the associated heated discussions about privacy, are not new to Facebook. The social media firm first began face-matching users in many counties 2011. This stopped in the European Union following concerns expressed by regulators and privacy campaigners.
Getting round privacy laws
The new policy, as The Guardian reports, will apply to those who reside in the European Union and Canada, and it forms part of several opt-in permissions being rolled out. For European Union citizens, the policy is designed to get in ahead of a new privacy law that comes into force on May 25, 2018 (and which is discussed below).
The return of facial recognition has concerned privacy campaigners. For example, Silkie Carlo, director of U.K. civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, told the BBC: "Biometric identification and tracking across the billions of photos on the platform exacerbates serious privacy risks to users."
Adding: "Facebook now has a duty to prove it has learned how to respect the law, not to prove it can take its surveillance capabilities to new depths."
Facebook's response to new European data privacy laws
In related news, Facebook has reacted to forthcoming stringent privacy laws affecting the member states in the European Union by altering its terms of service so that 1.5 billion members fall outside the privacy protection legislation. The new privacy law is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This regulation concerns data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union. In addition, the legislation covers the export of personal data outside the European Union.
The primary aims of the GDPR regulation is to give control back to citizens and residents over their personal data as well as to simplify the regulatory environment for international business. Digital Journal has discussed the implications of GDPR in the article "European business needs to get smart about data protection."
Facebook's change, according to the BBC, is to move Facebook users outside the European Union to be governed by Facebook Inc. in the U.S. rather than Facebook Ireland, which is within the European Union. In doing so, Facebook avoids the need to apply the GDPR to countries outside the European Union.