PITTSBURGH, Pa. (CBS) – Your face says a lot about you, but could just one look (with the help of advancing technology) let others in on way too much?

For example, some researchers at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh have downloaded Facebook profile pictures — all publicly available — and used them to put names to faces on a dating web site.

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“They ran all of these photos through an off-the-shelf face recognition software and they found they could identify about one in 10 of the dating site’s members,” says CNET writer Declan McCullagh, who notes that the professors got instant, easy access to their names — and, in some cases, other personal details — all from a face photo.

The researchers also developed — but didn’t release — an app that automates the process for anyone with a smartphone.

With giant implications for civil liberties, privacy advocates say this could be the next big fight.  But where should the finger point?

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“People are putting information online voluntarily,” notes McCullagh, of CNET.  “They read through the privacy policies — maybe — but they still go ahead and do it.  But they may not realize that eventually this data is going to be sucked down and perhaps used against them.”

McCullagh says one option is not to use a traditional head-and-shoulders profile photo of yourself on line — or, upload a picture of your cat instead.


Reported by Ian Bush, KYW Newsradio 1060

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