Photo tagging

E-Crime Expert is presenting today the privacy risks that might occur from phototagging. During the last couple of days, E-Crime Expert presented what “cookies” are, how Like button works, what Places and LBS means.

By photo tagging, anyone can add the name, email address and location to an uploaded Facebook picture. If the person to whom that tagging refers to is a member of the Facebook community, he can acknowledge the tagging. If he is a member of the person’s “friend’s list” who tagged the picture, he can remove the tag. However, if the tagged person does not have a Facebook account, he will not know if and when he was tagged in someone else’s pictures. Of course, in the offline environment, people take pictures with their camera and maybe share them among their friends or families. However, the exposure, publicity, and global availability occurring through the identification of someone, or naming someone in a “500 million-person” community are different. For example, an unflattering picture could be taken of someone and be uploaded on Facebook, be tagged with the private information of the subject (name, sex, contact), and be exposed to family, partners, employers, children, etc. without their consent or awareness. It could be the case that even if someone uploads a picture of another person without tagging her name or contact details, it could bring as much harm as in a situation where full disclosure is provided.

Technically, after a picture is tagged, that picture will appear on the users personal profile and on the tagged friends’ profile as well. Furthermore, the tagged user in theory has his profile accessible just by his friends list. However, one of his friends has his profile accessible by friends of friends or even worse, by anyone on Facebook. In that case, the tagged friend is not just “visible” to his friends, but also to other users (i.e. friends of friends) that he may not know personally. Would that be this user’s preference that his personal picture be viewed by total strangers or by anyone on Facebook? What about his current employer, which could see that while, he was gone to a job-related Conference, he also spent his working time on the ski resort (the tagged picture “reveals” the user on the ski resort, skiing, for example)?

According to Michele Bezzi: “The user that uploads the photo and the one that adds the tag to it, shall base their actions on a legitimate ground, such as the consent of the person concerned.

They are identifying here two types of possible problems: one the action of uploading someone’s picture without his consent and the second, the action of tagging someone’s picture without consent. A third problem could also occur, composed of the combination of the previous two such as: to upload and tag someone’s picture without his consent.

For Facebook, this should not be a privacy issue regarding its users, according to its vision statement made on January 19, 2010, the “friend’s list” with their friends’ photo albums is public information and does not fall under any privacy regulatory measures. I argue about this because in many law cases involving paparazzi taking pictures of celebrities, the judges had to consider if the subject is a public figure or not and if the photo was taken in a public space and if someone is entitled to publish them or not. In the case of a ordinary person which has casual pictures on Facebook, based on the precedent European Court of Human Rights rulings regarding the right to private life, if someone expressly required those pictures to be removed, then they should be removed because posting those pictures is an intrusion into someone else’s private life. By posting someone’s private pictures on Facebook, which is a medium for information to be made public, it is an intrusion in his private life.

Any questions can be submitted to:
dan@e-crimeexpert.com

Additional information can be found at: www.e-crimeexppert.com

Do you use photo-tagging? Have you ever been tagged in a photo? Would you be interested in checking the new Facebook privacy settings?

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  1. September 12, 2011 at 09:25

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