Posts tagged with "Privacy"

The face is familiar … and a new app will help you remember the name

January 8, 2019

It has happened to all of us. We run into somebody we know, but can’t match a name to the face.

Embarrassing? Yes. But now there’s a way to finesse the situation, thanks to the creators of SocialRecall, an app that uses smartphone cameras and facial recognition software to scan the features of your acquaintances—or even strangers at an event— and tell you their names.

“It breaks down these social barriers we all have in terms of initiating the protocol to meet somebody,” neuroscientist Barry Sandrew told Scientific American for its latest issue. Sandrew’s start-up, also called SocialRecall, created the app,  and tested it at an event attended by about 1,000 people.

There are two versions of the app, the magazine reports: In one version, a user upload selfies that SocialRecall then uses to identify the person for other app users within the bounds of a specific geographic area, such as an event venue. Another version is designed for users with prosopagnosia, better known as face blindness. That version enables a user to tag images of his or her own friends so that the app can remind them of their names on the fly.

Privacy concerns? SocialRecall says it deletes obsolete user data on the event version of the app, and that data for the other version is only stored on a user’s phone.

But, Scientific American notes, privacy experts remain concerned that the app represents a widespread rollout of technology that could have profound implications for the future of public spaces— and that it’s difficult to adequately inform users about the long-term risks of a technology that’s still so new.

“The cost to everyone whom you are surveilling with this app is very, very high,” New York University law professor Jason Schultz told Scientific American, “and I don’t think it respects the consent politics involved with capturing people’s images.”

Research contact: info@socialrecallapp.com

Ceding privacy for a paycheck: 78% of companies monitor employees

April 18,2018

Whether you are on the phone or computer, or in the supply closet, at work, chances are that you are being watched or recorded—or both, based on a report this week by ABCNews.Go.

According to new data from an annual workplace survey conducted by the American Management Association, nearly 80% of major companies now monitor employees’ use of e-mail, Internet or phone.

That figure represents a substantial uptick from 1997, when just 35% of businesses kept tabs on their workers—although employees have the same access now to email and the Internet that they had 20 years ago.

The AMA study was conducted among 1,627 large and mid-sized firms that are its members and clients—and  which, cumulatively, employ over 25%r of the U.S. workforce.

The survey also found that companies have increased monitoring across the board within the past couple of decades. Sixty-three percent now watch Internet usage and 47% review e-mails—a significant increase from 54% and 38%, respectively, in 1997.

In addition, more companies today are blocking social media and other sites that they deem inappropriate, in an effort to control employee “offenses”—and fully 25% say that they have fired employees for misuse of business email or the Internet.

“It’s not just a matter of corporate curiosity, but very real worries about productivity and liability that push these policies,” Eric Rolfe Greenberg, director of Management Studies for the AMA, told ABC.

“Personal e-mail can clog a company’s telecommunications system, and sexually explicit or other inappropriate material downloaded from the Internet can lead to claims of a hostile work environment,” he added.

Typically, the larger the company, the more incentive it has to check up on its employees, the survey found.

The financial sector — banks, brokerages, insurance and real estate — was the most vigilant, reporting that 92.1% of firms participate in some form of surveillance.

More than three-quarters of those who work in wholesale and retail, manufacturing, business and professional services and other non-profit organizations also were subjected to surveillance.

Finally, the AMA said that most companies tend to carry out spot checks rather than monitor workers constantly. However, that’s little comfort to employees, for whom the right to privacy has been ceded in exchange for a paycheck.

Research contact: customerservice@amanet.org