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August 25, 2011

Brave New Creepy, Invasive World

Advertisers to use facial recognition technology to tailor commercial pitches. So, when you walk up to, say, a newsstand, it recognizes your face and cross-references your buying habits. Then it starts hawking K-Y Jelly to you and Val-U-Rite vodka. Right in front of your new girlfriend.

It seems to know you're a woman in your late 20s and, in fact, it does. When you looked at the display, it scanned your facial features and tailored its messages to you.

Once the stuff of science fiction and high-tech crime fighting, facial recognition technology has become one of the newest tools in marketing, even though privacy concerns abound.

. . .

The commercial applications of facial recognition are in contrast to those being used by law enforcement to identify specific individuals. Companies, at least at this point, mostly just want to pinpoint a demographic based on age and gender to tailor their ads.

But even this facial recognition-lite alarms privacy advocates, given that it could greatly popularize and expand use of the technology.

Intel Corp., which makes such software, said it's widely adaptable.

"You can put this technology into kiosks, vending machines, digital signs," said Christopher O'Malley, director of retail marketing for Intel's embedded and communications group. "It's going to become a much more common thing in the next few years."

You know that penis enlargement medical clinic website you visited last year? Uh-huh. You'll be hearing from them again soon. Next time you buy a Mountain Dew at the local 7-11.

At the pace this technology is advancing, we need a comprehensive privacy statute, one that addresses some of the legal fictions that have crept into Fourth Amendment jurisprudence regarding reasonable expectation of privacy. One should not have to feel creeped out simply because they went to the store to buy some Ding Dongs.

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Dave Chappelle asks: What if targeted advertising actually hit you in meatspace? The future is here, Dave. The future is here. (Content warning: language.)

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posted by rdbrewer at 02:01 PM

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