I’m sure that your Facebook feed has been flooded with portraits of your friends looking old in the past few weeks. FaceApp has lately been all the rage, but at the same time, the popular app has raised some privacy concerns. Are the photos stored somewhere? Are they sold to third parties? Can they be used to identify you? These are only some of the questions users have been asking, and FaceApp has now responded to them.
Every once in a while, a “fun” website or app that requires us to upload a photo of ourselves goes viral. In 2015, it was Microsoft’s How-Old.net, which would guess your age based on a selfie. It turned out to be a showcase for Microsoft’s facial recognition technology.
Facebook’s always at the centre of some privacy controversy or other these days. Programmer Edin Jusupovic, spotted something rather odd recently when looking at a hex dump of an image file of unknown origin. After doing a little investigation, it appears to be IPTC “Special Instructions” injected into the image by Facebook.
This header is then kept with the file, as it gets downloaded and reposted around the web. This data seems to have been around since at least 2015, but it seems to have largely gone unnoticed. Now, though, it’s seeing renewed interest in light of recent events and it presents, in Jusupovic’s words, a “shocking level of tracking”.
Back in January current year, a picture agency used a helicopter to fly over Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s home and take photos. This invaded the couple’s privacy and safety so much, that they reportedly had to move out after the images were published in multiple outlets.
The whole issue of privacy in a public place seems to keep coming up. People want their privacy, I get that. But they want it in public places, where everybody else can see. While privacy advocates might object to cameras being pointed anywhere near their general direction, they seem to forget they are seen by potentially hundreds of CCTV cameras a day.
One festival company, Haarlem Culinair, thinks they’ve found a solution, though. They’ve come up with a pretty ingenious opt-out scheme for festival-goers. Stick a great big red dot on your forehead.
The EU has a new data protection law, the so-called GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation, or as we Germans like to call it: “Datenschutzgrundverordnung” (Gesundheit!). The rules took effect on May 25th and so far it’s pretty chaotic: in the EU we cannot reach some newspapers in the outside world because they cannot comply with the new rules.
A guy in Austria is using the law to file $8.8 billion dollar lawsuits against Facebook and Google. Hundreds of bloggers have taken down their sites, fearful of the possibility of serious fines. Internet light bulbs have stopped working properly. And photographers are being targeted, too.
We’ve all experienced how sensationalism can sometimes mire legitimate news stories, and we have plenty of examples out there. Just yesterday, there was a news segment on Today that showed just how easy it is for people to spy on you in your own house using “peeping drones.” Although the reporter offers some legitimate points, should we really be that worried about our privacy when it comes to drones?