Its now official that Johannes Casper, Hamburg Data Protection Commissioner, is re-opening an inquiry against Facebook for its Photo Tagging System. According to German official Facebook Facial Recognition System/Photo Tagging System violates Germany and European privacy laws as it stores a trove of tagged photos without explicit facebook member consent.
German officials first launched the inquiry in early 2011. After the inquiry launched Facebook suspended Facial recognition system for European members in June 2011 and negotiations started between Facebook and privacy authorities in Ireland(Facebook HQ for European Operations). Facebook agreed to suspend its Photo Tagging Service for European members joining Facebook on or after July 1st, 2012 but photos tagged before will be kept in Facebook database.
Johannes Casper told New York Times that He is planning to end his investigation as Facebook partially fulfilled their promise and will file a formal request in September to Facebook to change its policies. Casper says that He wants Facebook to destroy its Photographic Database of Tagged Faces obtained from German citizens and also wants Facebook to alter its Photo Tagging Software so that Facebook members would have to agree first to allow photo tagging software. At the moment Facebook members can only untagged themselves by disallowing it on Photos.
Johannes Casper said in a statement to New York Times, He Said: “This hope has only been partially fulfilled. The potential for abuse with a biometric database is immense”.
Facebook will be fined 25,000 euros if they failed to follow Johannes Casper orders.
However, Facebook authorities in a statement said that Photo Tagging System is fully complaint with EU data protection laws.
Facebook spokesperson said: “We believe that the photo tag suggest feature on Facebook is fully compliant with E.U. data protection laws. During our continuous dialogue with our supervisory authority in Europe, the Office of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, we agreed to develop a best practice solution to notify people on Facebook about photo tag suggest”.
However, In March 2012 EU’s top advisory panel on privacy issued a publication stating “collection of biometric data without users explicit consent is illegal”.
Last year, an audit of the company concluded that Facebook had to improve how it informed users of its biometric data collection policies. Ireland is now planning to publish a second audit of the Facebook’s disputed privacy policies.