Millions of Flickr Photos Were Scraped to Train Facial Recognition Software

NBC: Facial Recognition's 'Dirty Little Secret' Is Using Millions of Pictures Without Consent

NBC: Facial Recognition's 'Dirty Little Secret' Is Using Millions of Pictures Without Consent

"IBM has been committed to building responsible, fair and trusted technologies for more than a century and believes it is critical to strive for fairness and accuracy in facial recognition".

As per a report by NBC News, IBM has been using around one million images from the image-hosting platform to train its facial recognition AI, without the permission of the people in the photos.

Users were unaware that their photos had been collected for the project, and had no way of knowing that photos taken from their personal accounts were included in the data set, an investigation from NBC found.

By using large datasets such as this, technology companies hope to make their facial-recognition systems more accurate. They were a part of the YFCC100M, a dataset that consisted of 99.2 million photos and 0.8 million videos from Flickr. According to NBC, which was able to view the collection, these have all been annotated according to various estimates like age and gender, as well as physical details - skin tone, size and shape of facial features, and pose.

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He also alleged that both Jocelyn and Azriel were told they had to meet at a remote location and they don't want to do that. Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi later clarified the anonymous call came from California.

Photos selected by IBM were listed under a Creative Commons licence, which generally means the images can be widely used with only a small number of restrictions.

IBM has promised to remove people from its dataset, but discovering that an image of you may be used in its database is where things get tricky. Instead, the images were uploaded to Flickr under a "Creative Commons" license, which allows others to use them without paying licensing fees, sometimes for commercial use. "It seems a little sketchy that IBM can use these pictures without saying anything to anybody". But as NBC points out, the people photographed on Flickr didn't consent to having their photos used to develop facial recognition systems - and might easily not have, considering those systems could eventually be used to surveil and recognize them. However, the images included in the study haven't been made public, making it nearly impossible for people to have their images removed.

Want to opt out?

Either way, it's hard for the average person to check if their photos were included and request to have them removed, since IBM keeps the dataset private from anyone who's not conducting academic or corporate research.

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