Facial Recognition Technology Is Secretly Tracking You, Everywhere

Smile! You're on candid camera.

Facial recognition technology is becoming more and more widely used by social media platforms, advertisers and tech companies. But many of us don't know that our biological data is being collected, much less what it's being used for -- and there aren't a lot of guidelines to make sure these companies respect our privacy.

Advocacy groups including the American Civil Liberties Union have recently tried -- and failed -- to reach an agreement with trade groups about the use of technology that can recognize your facial features, identify you and sell you products. At stake is consumer privacy: You may unwittingly be marketed to (or tracked by law enforcement) without ever explicitly consenting to having your face used.

Concerns over such technology recently stopped Facebook's new "Moments" app from launching in Europe, but Americans are still very much subject to the possibility that companies may be collecting data that links their identity to their face.

A lot of us already turn this data over without thinking about it. Perhaps you frequently tag photos on Facebook -- the platform will come to recognize which of your friends a certain face belongs to. Or maybe you use Google Photos, which can tell when you're photographing the same person over and over, though it doesn't assign identifying information to them.

It may not seem like such a big deal when Facebook is recognizing people based on data they've already handed over. But the applications for this technology run a bit deeper. In a new segment on HuffPost Live, Engadgets's John Colucci says that a restaurant could, in theory, know to offer you booze because of all the online photos of you drinking. Or, a furniture shop might try to sell you a table made out of specific wood because of decisions you've made previously.

This sort of thing has been happening for years. But the concern is that it could be used on a more massive scale, before any baseline consumer protections are put in place.

For more, watch the video above.

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