#CyberFLASH: Facebook says users can’t stop it from using biometric data

facebook

Facebook Inc.’s software knows your face almost as well as your mother does. And like mom, it isn’t asking your permission to do what it wants with old photos.

While millions of internet users embrace the tagging of family and friends in photos, others worried there’s something devious afoot are trying block Facebook as well as Google from amassing such data.

As advances in facial recognition technology give companies the potential to profit from biometric data, privacy advocates see a pattern in how the world’s largest social network and search engine have sold users’ viewing histories for advertising. The companies insist that gathering data on what you look like isn’t against the law, even without your permission.

If judges agree with Facebook and Google, they may be able to kill off lawsuits filed under a unique Illinois law that carries fines of US$1,000 to US$5,000 each time a person’s image is used without permission — big enough for a liability headache if claims on behalf of millions of consumers proceed as class actions. A loss by the companies could lead to new restrictions on using biometrics in the U.S., similar to those in Europe and Canada.

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#CyberFLASH: Cyberattack on biometric data poses security risks at border, documents warn

canada-refugee-processing-fingerprintsOTTAWA—Border officials warn a cyberattack on their facial recognition or fingerprints databases could result in barring innocent travellers from Canada — or letting the wrong people in.

In documents prepared for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale in November, Canada Border Services Agency officials said they need to “keep pace with emerging security vulnerabilities” to systems governing who can enter the country.

The agency’s growing use of “biometric” data — such as fingerprints, facial recognition, and retinal scans — was cited as an example.

“A malicious cyberattack, for example, could infiltrate the back-end of a biometric identification system and produce false acceptances and/or rejections,” reads the document, obtained by the Star under access to information law.

“Such attacks could disrupt border traffic flows and compromise the integrity of border controls. CBSA must protect Canadians from increasingly complex safety and security threats and continue to advance security monitoring in all technologies.”

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