It’s been a pleasure to blog this week. I hope you’ve enjoyed this conversation and I’d love to continue it. If you’re interested in reading more, check out our book, Wild West 2.0. It is the most-discussed Internet policy book of 2010 (Jimmy Wales called it “an invaluable guide” to the “brave new world of the Internet”) and it sold out Amazon.com once already. Or, contact me directly through my site at davidcthompson.com. Thanks again to Eugene and the whole Volokh Conspiracy for inviting me to participate this week.
This week, we’ve discussed the “Wild West 2.0” metaphor for the Internet. Today, I’m going to present a few quick ideas that didn’t make it into this week’s posts. I don’t have enough space to flesh them all out, but I hope to provoke some thoughts and discussions that will continue beyond this week.
What will widespread surveillance and facial recognition do to privacy?
It’s always been the law in the U.S. that images you take in public are yours to use non-commercially. There are a few exceptions around security, peeping Toms, and so-called “upskirt” photography, but basically you can take a photo from any public place and make any non-commercial use of it.
There are good reasons for this policy, ranging from a basic respect for the free press and free expression, to the First Amendment.
But, today, facial recognition is quickly becoming available on a wide scale. For just one example, an application called Face.com allows Facebook users to use photo recognition to find their friends in photos (even if they have not been tagged, or if they have removed their tag). Using the tool, it’s often possible to find hundreds of untagged photos of your friends (or yourself) posted by other people.
The Face.com developers [...]