Facial recognition phone application described as a ’stalker’s dream’

Daily Mail
01.03.2010
By Daily Mail Reporter

A prototype camera phone application that enables the user to find names and numbers of complete strangers has been labelled a ’stalker’s dream’.

The application, called Recognizr, has been developed to find personal information through facial recognition software.

The user simply has to take a picture of a person and hit the ‘Recognize’ button.

The photo is then compared to shots on social networking sites including Facebook and Twitter before personal information, which can include phone numbers, addresses and email addresses, is sent to the user.

The software developer, Swedish company The Astonishing Tribe, is currently testing the software, which works on phones with a camera of five or more megapixel resolution.

Simon Davies from Privacy International said: ‘It takes the dangers that already exist and increases them infinitely.’

There are also fears the application could lead to an increase in people being stalked by those who have obtained their personal information.

Dr Ian Brown from the Oxford Internet Institute said: ‘A guy could take a picture of a girl in a bar and find out all sorts of information.’

Tom Gaffney, from security software firm F-Secure, added: ‘This application looks like it could be a stalker’s dream.’

Full article

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Daily Mail
01.03.2010
By Claire Bates

Chat Roulette: Exploring the disturbing webcam service that connects you with strangers

First came Facebook, which connects you with close friends and school mates you don’t really talk to anymore. Then came Twitter where you could ‘follow’ and be followed by complete strangers.

So it was perhaps inevitable that the ever evolving internet would push the social boundaries one step further, resulting in Chat Roulette.

Chat Roulette is a service that puts you face to face with a random stranger via your webcam.

You then have the choice of either chatting to them or disconnecting and being matched with another user from around the globe.

Hal Niedzviecki, author of ‘The Peep Diaries’, said: ‘Chatroulette is stark because it feels like television. It’s like sitting in front of the TV flipping channels, except the people are real.’

Parents will likely be horrified by the idea their children can connect face to face with strangers in their bedrooms.

Despite a disclaimer on the front page that states you have to be 16 years of age to enter, there is no way of enforcing this.

The website also claims obscene material will not be tolerated but countless users have reported being exposed to shots of men performing obscene acts in front of the screen.

The website was created by a Russian student and appeared in November last year. Yet it had already attracted nearly one million unique users in January according to comScore. At any given time, tens of thousands of people may be logged on.

Recently there have been cases of Jo Public finding themselves face to face with celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher and Kelly Osbourne.

Armed with a friend and a large mug of tea I logged on and nervously entered the chat room.

Our first match was with a teenage girl, who hid her face under long lank brown hair. Trying to be friendly we introduced ourselves but it was soon clear it was going to be an awkward encounter.

It felt like being stuck in a lift with someone when you can’t think what to say. After a few monosyllabic answers she leaned forward and disconnected.

Still reeling from our first experience we were next confronted with a large red sign that asked ‘Want to see me naked?’

‘NO!!’ we quickly typed. ‘I’m gunna show you anyway’ came the reply. Needless to say we rapidly shut down the window.

After an hour we closed down the system, somewhat drained by the effort of making small-talk with people we had never met before.

The experience of being beamed into a stranger’s bedroom feels intrusive and unsettling and has worrying implications for teenagers who are more used to sharing personal information on the web.

Some commentators say the website is a throwback to the heady early days of the web and the first experimental chatrooms. For my part I hope we have learned to be more cynical and less trusting since then. I certainly doubt I will log on again.

Full article

Related:

Telegraph: School spied on pupils at home through webcams *

Google Buzz accused of EPIC FAIL

Driver’s licenses for the Internet

CCTV in the sky: police plan to use military-style spy drones *

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg says privacy is no longer a ’social norm’

BBC The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom (film) *

24 hour cctv surveillance of so-called Shameless families*

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