Mark Cuban Wants To Keep Track of Your Face

Tuesday, July 20, 2010
By Paul Martin

Mark Cuban Would Like to Grab Facebook Photos for Facial Recognition

EconomicPolicyJournal.com

Billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has announced he has just invested in a company “that takes video of an area and can tell you exactly how many people are in the capture area at any given time.”

“Its a great for traffic patterns, security, and much more. We are posting cameras in certain environments where anonymity is required, and we don’t and won’t capture faces or anything that could identify an individual. We will simply provide incredibly accurate traffic information and patterns,” he says.

After this intro, Cuban flips 100% in the announcement and starts talking about “opt out mechanisms”. You ask why is he talking about “opt out mechanisms” when he starts out talking about the anonymity his cameras assure? Good question.

It turns out that Cuban’s plans shift completely away from anonymity. What he is really doing is eyeing everyone’s Facebook pic. Here’s more of what he has just announced:

The next extension is to install it in places where we can add facial recognition software. So rather than someone checking in to a specific application, we would already know you are there.

Of course there would have to be “opt out” mechanisms. Of course there would be a battle over whether or not a store or venue should be “opt in” vs automated recognition, but that’s not a software issue. The reality is that its solves “the path of least resistance” issue with check-ins for location-based software. Individuals never do any of the work. The store/host recognizes you are there and rewards you for allowing your identity and information to be captured and linked. If Amazon can “welcome us back” and offer us personalized specials, why shouldnt [sic] brick and mortar establishments ?

Even more interesting is the fact that Facebook provides a database of 500mm people and their names from around world. While not all profile pictures are going to be valid in facial recognition software, most will. Few people exclude their basic name and picture information from public search, so FB could be the first to provide a database of names and faces to the commercial world of facial recognition.

Location Check in is so 2010.
Bottom line: Cuban knows this is a hot potato and is slick enough to cover it up as simply a counting camera, and then it’s a check-in camera, but what is really going on here is he is going for the big time tracking camera.

Cuban does not have a record of getting involved with government, but he is really playing with fire here. This is a terrible project for him to be working on. Even if he doesn’t play footsie with the government, it surely is the type of equipment that the government might want to take over for “security” reasons, and then the real tracking begins where they will know every move you make once you get out of your house or car.

It really is time to take your Facebook account down, or at least put a picture of Mark Cuban where they ask for your pic:

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