Maybe it’s time to quit posting personal photos online.
Actually, it’s too late for me.
But I could continue to abstain from posting photos of new family members.
See what you make of these excerpts from an article I quickly scanned tonight:
With Carnegie Mellon’s cloud-centric new mobile app, the process of matching a casual snapshot with a person’s online identity takes less than a minute. Tools like PittPatt and other cloud-based facial recognition services rely on finding publicly available pictures of you online, whether it’s a profile image for social networks like Facebook and Google Plus or from something more official from a company website or a college athletic portrait. In their most recent round of facial recognition studies, researchers at Carnegie Mellon were able to not only match unidentified profile photos from a dating website where the vast majority of users operate pseudonymously with positively identified Facebook photos, but also match pedestrians on a North American college campus with their online identities.
The repercussions of these studies go far beyond putting a name with a face; researchers Alessandro Acquisti, Ralph Gross, and Fred Stutzman anticipate that such technology represents a leap forward in the convergence of offline and online data and an advancement of the “augmented reality” of complementary lives. With the use of publicly available Web 2.0 data, the researchers can potentially go from a snapshot to a Social Security number in a matter of minutes:
The relevant point here is not Schmidt’s thought on behavior and choice but the fact that, no matter what you choose to do or not do, your life exists in the cloud, indexed by Google, in the background of a photo album on Facebook, and across thousands of spammy directories that somehow know where you live and where you went to high school. These little bits of information exist like digital detritus. With software like PittPatt that can glean vast amounts of cloud-based data when prompted with a single photo, your digital life is becoming inseparable from your analog one. You may be able to change your name or scrub your social networking profiles to throw off the trail of digital footprints you’ve inadvertently scattered across the Internet, but you can’t change your face. And the cloud never forgets a face.
How naive we’ve been.
Well, for me, “had been.” The moment of awakening to this came several weeks ago. But still, prior to that was much too long a time to have been naive.
For a generally-suspicious, naturally-cynical, privacy-and-security-conscious person, that’s pretty bad.
But now it’s now…so…now what?
Do we just accept our fate and continue carelessly?
I say, “No!”