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article imageMicrosoft removes a database of millions of facial images

By Ken Hanly     Jun 7, 2019 in Technology
Earlier in the week Microsoft removed a database of more than ten million faces. The database was used to test and train facial recognition algorithms. The database was known as MS Celeb.
MS Celeb
The database consisted of more than 10 million images of about 100,000 people. The images were largely scraped from publicly available sources on line.The structured data that accompanied the photos made the dataset quite useful in training AI to recognize a persons face across several different photos.
Many in the photos were not aware that the data set existed
However a Financial Times Investigation found that many of the persons in the images were not aware of its existence and had not consented to their photos being used. A number of experts had speculated that the dataset could encounter legal issues. General Data Protection Regulation imposes significant requirement as to how a person's individual data is stored and transferred.
Microsoft does not announce removal of the dataset
Microsoft downplayed the significance of the site saying that it was intended for academic purposes and was run by an employee who was no longer with the company as he has been removed. Two similar data sets at DUke University and Stanford were also removed after the Financial Post investigation.Two similar data sets run by Duke University and Stanford were also taken down in the wake of the FT’s reporting.
The dataset was widely used
A recent article notes: " The images were gathered from search engines and published in 2016 to a dataset called MS Celeb and used to train facial recognition systems around the world, including by military researchers and Chinese firms such as SenseTime and Megvii, the Financial Times reported Thursday. The dataset — previously used in an AI project to recognize celebrities — had been linked to China’s efforts to crack down on ethnic minorities in the country."
The facial-recognition technology is used for everyday tasks such as unlocking phones and tagging friends on social media. However privacy concerns persist Law enforcement agencies also use the technology to help with investigations. However, the technology can often be flawed. As the appended video notes the FBI has a huge database of facial recognition images.
More about Microsoft, MS Celeb, Facial recognition
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