The recent news that a Russian photographer has been “web Stalking” in the name of Art has thrown open a number of discussions around Data privacy and the intrusion of Big Data Analytics on our lives (again).

In a project entitled “Your Face Big data” Art School student Egor Tsvetkov began photographing people on the tube then began mapping them out using facial recognition software. Apparently he found the process of tracking down 70% of the people he took pictures of as “uncomfortable” may I suggest not quite as uncomfortable as the people being covertly snapped.

The app used was Findface which uses neural-network technology to track down faces on social media. From there all manner of other open data was at hand for the artist to build a comprehensive dossier on strangers. This does indeed highlight how technology has stripped back the possibility of anonymity and privacy in the modern world.

It is an interesting fact that Tsvetov found it much harder to track down the post 35 year old generation. Millennials have grown up in a far more interconnected world where sharing personal data is a way of life whereas giving information away is still treated with some trepidation by generation X.

Balancing the benefits of facial recognition software against the possibility of nefarious intrusion is one that is challenging modern law enforcement and rights campaigners.  The legal and military deployment of facial recognition tech is crucial in tracking down “Bad Guys” but at what cost? The technology’s issues with Racial Bias will not help already maligned minorities feel comfortable being tracked by “Robo Cop”.

Whilst society grapples with these contentious rights issues and cyber stalkers continue to take your picture in public we are left with only two viable solutions:

1) Use the privacy settings on your social media platforms 

2) Buy a balaclava