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Facebook + Google = Gottcha! Facial Recognition Gone Bad

 A new social demon is in town called “facial recognition”.

The first five social security numbers of persons using social websites such as Facebook were determined using snap shots of peoples faces, Facebook and Google’s newly acquired facial recognition software according to a professor Alessandro Acquisti at  Carnegie  Mellon University.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, PC Magazine, Business Insider and others, the facial recognition project used snapshots of complete strangers.  PittPatt, the facial recognition software company began as a Carnegie Mellon University project, and it can spot people in photos and videos with facial recognition and tracking technology.

Google acquired PittPatt this month according to an article published in the Wall Street Journal on July 22, 2011  –  “Google built facial recognition technology for smartphones into a product known as Google Goggles, but withheld it. “As far as I know, it’s the only technology that Google built and after looking at it, we decided to stop,” said Google Chairman Eric Schmidt last month at a conference. “People could use this stuff in a very, very bad way as well as in a good way.

Parts of the Social Security numbers were accurately determined only 27 percent of the time.  The Social Security Administration changed it’s numbering system in June according to the WSJ.

Professor Alessandro Acquisti and his team will be at the Black Hat security conference this week, where more details will be revealed during an August 4 presentation.

Sources: WSJ 7/22/2011, WSJ 8/1/2011, Business Insider, PC Magazine

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