Can a Photo of Your Face Reveal Your Interests & Social Security Number?

The first widely available consumer software that featured face recognition was Apple’s iPhoto for Mac OS X. Google’s Picasa followed suit and Apple’s own iPhone Photos app gained a “Faces” feature soon afterward. Facebook added facial recognition this summer that semi-automated the tagging process. Hundreds of millions of photos are uploaded to Facebook each day. This means the odds are there are millions of photos of people who are unaware they are in a photo (perhaps passing by in the backgroud) that could be identified as the facial recognition database grows and gets more information. But, how much of a threat to privacy is this combination of millions of camera equipped mobile phones and millions of photos on social networking sites?

Press Release: Face Recognition Software, Social Media Sites Increase Privacy Risks, Says New Carnegie Mellon Study

The researchers ran three experiments using an off-the-shelf face recognizer, cloud computing and publicly available information from social network sites that let them:

1. Identify individuals on a popular online dating site where members protect their privacy through pseudonyms
2. Identify students walking on campus — based on their profile photos on Facebook
3. Predict personal interests and, in some cases, even the Social Security numbers of the students, beginning with only a photo of their faces

The CMU researchers also built a smartphone application to demonstrate the ability of making the same sensitive inferences in real-time. In an example of “augmented reality,” the application uses offline and online data to overlay personal and private information over the target’s face on the device’s screen.

This is eeriely similar to the technology seen in the Terminator and other movies where we see information about a person or thing overlaid on a camera view of the object.

Via Forbes: How Facial Recognition Technology Can Be Used To Get Your Social Security Number