Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen is demanding a meeting with Facebook officials to discuss the company’s plans for a new feature that will use facial recognition software to identify people in photographs.
Facebook announced the new feature on its blog last December but has now started rolling it out to users. It will allow users to identify their friends in photographs based on facial recognition data gathered from previously “tagged” photographs.
At issue is that the new feature will be turned on by default for all users. Anyone wishing to not have their photos processed by the new feature will need to follow a multi-step process to opt out.
“The lack of an opt-in process for Facebook users is troubling because unknowing consumers may have their photos tagged and matched using facial recognition software without their express consent, potentially exposing them to unwelcome attention and loss of privacy,” Jepsen wrote in a letter to the company today.
“The meeting with Facebook executives is an opportunity for this office to fully explain its concerns with the “Tag Suggestions” feature and for Facebook to explain its decision to implement it through an opt-out mechanism,” Assistant Attorney General Matthew Fitzsimmons said. “Through cooperation and an exchange of information, this Office will seek answers to its concerns and continue to ensure that consumers’ private information is protected.”
In a blog post, Facebook says users can decide to opt out of the process by going through its privacy settings tab, a process that takes seven clicks to complete.
Watch a video of the opt-out process:
This is not the first electronic privacy issue Jepsen’s office has investigated. Jepsen requested information from Apple and Google on April 27 regarding location data collected by their mobile devices. The results of that investigation have yet to be released.
Facebook, in a statement submitted to CTTechjunkie, says the company has been in touch with the Attorney General’s office and is “eager to provide clarification about Tag Suggestions and answer any questions he may have.”