No More Public Anonymous Photos

Early in the history of the WWW, people thought a document which did not have an inbound link, a link from some external location to the file, was private. Search engines looked for content on web sites in locations for which there was not a link already pointing. To truly respect the privacy of those sites, these search engines would have only index content from sites which asked to be index AND only indexed content which that web site pointed a link.

Just because SiteB links to a location on SiteA doesn’t mean SiteA wished it to found in a search, an example is deep linking. Note the court cases (1, 2) in which judges rule in favor of the SiteAs who go to court about SiteBs who make such links. Note I made deep links in order to demonstrate the deep links. 🙂

On Privacy and Polar Rose – Polar Rose Blog : On Privacy and Polar Rose

It should come as little surprise that we believe that Polar Rose adds tremendous value to the photo web. We think we’re as harmful to the photo web, as Altavista, Yahoo!, and Google have been to the text web. By sorting the text web, these search engines exposed the wonderful resource of public documents that web had already become. The side-effect was that information which was not meant for public consumption, but which was kept private by obscurity, was suddenly exposed and searchable.

By Polar Rose’s logic, because people acclimated in general to losing textual anonyminity, they will do the same for facial recognition. Just what does the lack of a label mean? The photographer may be protecting the identity of someone, a minor for example. The uploader may be lazy. The uploader may not know. The uploaded may not own the copyright to the photo.

On the whole, I think facial recognition is a good thing. The cases in which there are likely going to be privacy concerns are going to be more likely uncommon than common. Those who it affects are going to be most upset all the same.

If anything, then I think we have a tendency to underestimate how badly such things are going to violate the privacy of our lives. For example, look how often search engines exposed Social Security Numbers on web sites.

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