Saturday, 2 June 2007

Invasions of Privacy

There's been a (small) outcry about the privacy implications of photo-tagging on sites such as facebook and how these might be increased by automated face recognition software. As usual someone has decided to bring the legal aspect into the debate: should people be allowed to post these pictures?

This brings up the more fundamental issue of whether personal privacy is something that should be legislated about. Certainly I may not want to have my name attached to a photograph of me doing whatever it is I do on a Friday night published to the weird and wonderful web, but can I force people not to do it by law?

We live in a liberal society that believes, as do I, that freedom of speech and expression is very important. Posting photographs with people's names attached is simply a method of expression. The problem seems to be that photographs are trusted much more than many other methods of expression and that situations which are rarely portrayed through speech are portrayed through photographs which can, unfortunately and contrary to popular belief, lie.

Thus the problem here is that photographs are trusted beyond their veracity, not that any measures should be gone to to prevent their distribution or labelling.

Disagree? Let me know.

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