If this is true, it’s creepy.
An upcoming app for smartphones and Google Glass claims to let you take a photo of a complete stranger, and then automatically scan millions of photos uploaded to social networking and dating profiles to see if it can find a match.
The developers of the NameTag app, FacialNetwork, say that it will also allow users to “scan photos against the more than 450,000 entries in the National Sex Offender Registry and other criminal databases”.
There are obvious huge privacy and law-and-order concerns raised by a facial recognition app like this.
Of course, the makers of NameTag aren’t presenting it as a godsend for stalkers and vigilantes who want to inflict their own justice on possible paedophiles.
Instead, they’re suggesting it will help people make safer choices when dating in real-life.
The NameTag app’s press release explains further:
“I believe that this will make online dating and offline social interactions much safer and give us a far better understanding of the people around us,” said NameTag’s creator Kevin Alan Tussy. “It’s much easier to meet interesting new people when we can simply look at someone, see their Facebook, review their LinkedIn page or maybe even see their dating site profile. Often we were interacting with people blindly or not interacting at all. NameTag on Google Glass can change all that.”
No longer will social media be limited to the screens of desktops, tablets and smartphones. With the NameTag app running on Google Glass a user can simply glance at someone nearby and instantly see that person’s name, occupation and even visit their Facebook, Instagram or Twitter profiles in real-time.
The developers say that they are presently adding technology to allow the scanning of profile photos from popular dating sites, such as PlentyOfFish, OkCupid and Match.com.
What isn’t at all clear from the NameTag website is whether you will have to opt-in to have any freak in the street able to tell who you are and your relationship status, or whether the site plans to force people to opt-out of the creepy feature.
We have to hope, for the privacy of all of us, it is the former.
Versions of the NameTage app are said to be in the works for iPhones, Android devices and Google Glass users (known as “Glassholes” to many).
One piece of good news is that, according to its developer policies, Google does not allow software that uses facial recognition to be included into its Google Glass App store, so NameTag may find it hard to gain a huge audience on that platform at least. (Although, of course, it’s always possible the software could be installed on rooted devices)
Meanwhile, perhaps the best advice I can give you, is to take greater care over what photos you share publicly on social networks – and ensure that your privacy settings are properly set to reduce the chances of your picture ending up accessible to an app’s facial recognition database.
What do you think about apps like this? Leave a comment below