Rumors are flying to the effect that Google is looking to purchase, or may have already purchased Riya, developers of a new facial recognition technology designed to allow its users to group photographs by the names of people in their pictures, group by subject, group by date, as well as group by the text of signs in their pictures, which Riya can also detect and read.

Not only will users of Riya be allowed to search their own collections of photos by name, etc., they’ll be able to make them publicly searchable as well.

I think you can expect to see significantly more from us here at Security Catalyst on this particular subject. Thus, right now, I’m just going to run through a quick overview of my thoughts on it. It seems to me that more and more technology to make it mind-numbingly simple to invade a individual’s privacy is coming into existence.

One thought that occurs to me is the idea that, if I accidentally appear, recognizably, in the background of a Riya user’s photograph, and they make it publicly searchable, it begins to, possibly, reveal much more about me that I might like.

Here’s just one example scenario: let’s say I’ve left a city to get away from an abusive relationship, althought I haven’t bothered to change my name or appearance. In my new home, I make new friends, who have, use, and love Riya. Once I appear in one of their pictures, and they identify me, it opens a giant hole in my protection. Not only does Riya now have some indication of what I look like, it probably knows who I am, and where I spend time, if only occasionally. Since it knows these things, it can start to recognize me in other pictures….

I’d like to just run through an abbreviated list of the people that I expect to be very enthused about this technology, combined with the people who might be scared by it:

Organized crime/Former “organized crime” members within the Witness Protection Program
Government TLA’s/Organized crime
etc… etc….

I’m going to cut this particular article short right about here. The more I think about the implications of this, the more my scalp is starting to crawl.

Definitely watch this space for a more in-depth analysis of this one. This is not as in-depth an examination as I’d like to perform of this question, and your host, the original Security Catalyst agrees, so we will probably be assembling a forum to discuss it further, and put out a significantly more thorough paper.

Thanks to Darkness Productions for the heads-up.

About the Author Michael Santarcangelo

The founder of Security Catalyst, Michael develops exceptional leaders and powerful communicators with the security mindset for success.

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