Why it doesn’t matter that Facebook shuts down its old facial recognition system

On Monday morning, Meta (a company formerly known as Facebook) announced that it would shut down the “face recognition system on Facebook”, which is a Has been raising privacy alerts Since his debut.in a Blog post, The company described the move as “one of the biggest shifts in the use of facial recognition in the history of the technology.” On Twitter, outgoing CTO Mike Schroepfer and the new CTO Andrew Bosworth who was previously responsible for Facebook’s Oculus virtual reality division Said the announcement was “Big deal“with”Very important decision. ”Electronic Frontier Foundation Regarded as It “proves the efforts of all activists to resist this intrusive technology.”

But reviewing the VR privacy policies of Meta and Facebook, as well as the company’s answers to a detailed list of questions about them, shows that the company’s facial recognition technology has nowhere to go. It is just one of many intrusive data collection methods that may enter the Metaverse near you. (Disclosure: In my previous life, I held policy positions at Facebook and Spotify.)

Facebook recently announced that it will shut down its controversial facial recognition system, which is a difficult time for the company, which is facing strict regulatory scrutiny. year of bad according to Recently got inflammation High-profile whistleblower.

But this moment may also be an appropriate time. The company is shifting its focus to virtual reality, a face-wearing technology that collects large amounts of data about its users when necessary. Based on this data, Meta will have the ability to create an identification and surveillance system that is at least as powerful as the system it uses for pastures. Just because it can create these systems doesn’t mean it will. However, for now, the company is retaining its option.

The fact is: Meta intends to collect unique identifying information about its users’ faces.Last week, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg Tell Ben Thompson of Stratechery believes that the “big new feature” of Meta’s new Cambria headset is “around eye tracking and face tracking.”Although the platform has “turned off the previous service that created facial profiles for Facebook users,” the New York Times reported that the company was Keep The algorithm on which the service depends. A Meta spokesperson declined to answer questions from BuzzFeed News about how the algorithm continues to be used today.

Meta may have shut down the facial recognition system that caused so many concerns on Facebook, but given that it intends to retain the algorithm that powers the system, there is no reason why the company cannot “reopen it again later,” according to David Bro David Brody, Senior Advisor to the Civil Rights Lawyers Committee under the Law.

At the same time, Meta’s current privacy policy for VR devices leaves enough space for collecting personal biometric data beyond the user’s face. As Katitza Rodriguez, Director of Global Privacy Policy at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, pointed out, the language “is broad enough to cover a wide range of potential data streams—even if it is not collected today, it may start collecting tomorrow without notifying users and obtaining additional Agree, or modify the policy.”

When necessary, user data collected by virtual reality hardware is completely different from social media platforms. VR headsets can be taught to recognize the user’s voice, the shadows of their veins or iris, or to capture indicators such as heart rate, breathing rate, and causes of pupil dilation. Facebook has applied for many of these types of data collection patents, including one This will use information such as your face, voice, and even your DNA to lock and unlock the device. other Will consider the user’s “weight, strength, pressure, heart rate, pressure rate or EEG data” to create a VR avatar. Patents are usually ambitious—covering potential use cases that have never occurred—but they can sometimes provide insight into the company’s future plans.

Meta’s current VR privacy policy does not specify all the types of data it collects about its users.this Oculus privacy settings, Oculus privacy policy, with Oculus Data Supplement PolicyManage Meta’s current virtual reality products, providing some information about the broad categories of data collected by Oculus devices.But they all specify their data fields (such as “the position of your headset, the speed of your controller and the change in your direction, such as when you move your head”) just example In these categories, rather than a complete listing of their content.

The examples given also do not convey the breadth of the categories they intend to represent. For example, the Oculus privacy policy states that Meta will “collect information about your environment, body movements, and dimensions when you use XR devices.” It then provides two examples of this type of collection: information about your VR gaming area and “technical information, such as your estimated hand size and hand movement.”

But “information about your environment, body movements, and size” can describe data points far beyond the estimated hand size and game boundaries-it can also include indicators of unconscious reactions, such as withdrawal, or unique recognition actions, Like a smile.

Meta twice declined to specify the type of data collected by its equipment today and the type of data it plans to collect in the future. It also declined to disclose whether it is currently collecting or planning to collect biometric information such as heart rate, breathing rate, pupil dilation, iris recognition, voice recognition, vein recognition, facial movement or facial recognition. Instead, it pointed to the policy linked above and added that “Oculus VR headsets currently do not process biometric data as defined by applicable laws.” A company spokesperson declined to specify which laws Meta believes apply. However, about 24 hours after the story was published, the company told us that it “currently” does not collect the above detailed types of data, nor does it “currently” use facial recognition in its VR devices.

However, Meta does provide additional information about how it uses personal data in advertising.this Oculus Supplemental Terms of Service Say that Meta may use information about “actions” [users] Has adopted Oculus products to provide them with advertising and sponsored content. According to Oculus’ definition of “action,” this language allows it to target ads based on what makes us jump out of fear, speed up our heartbeat, or sweat our hands.

But at least for now, Meta will not target ads in this way. Instead, a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that the company is using a narrower definition of “action”-excluding exercise data collected by users’ VR devices.

In a 2020 Documentation Facebook Reality Labs is called the “principle of responsible innovation” and describes its approach to metaverse. The first of these principles “Never surprise people” begins: “We are transparent about how our products work and the data they collect.” In response to a question from BuzzFeed News, Meta stated that if anything happens in the future Changes, how it will collect and use our data.

Brody told BuzzFeed News that if the data currently collected by Meta does not have better clarity, “customers cannot make informed choices about when and how to use their products.” More importantly, if Meta has never accurately explained it What is being done now, it is difficult for the public to understand that Meta may make any changes to how it collects and uses our data in the future.

Brittan Heller, legal counsel of the law firm Foley Hoag, human rights and virtual reality expert, has a different statement: “The virtual reality industry is currently in the’magic eight balls’ stage. In terms of privacy and security, The person who got up said,’The outlook is uncertain: I will ask later.'”

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