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FaceBlocked

Ah, the Germans. Stout. Practical. Honourable. And just a little bit paranoid.

You see, our teutonic pals are probably the world leaders when it comes to grumbling about privacy. It was in Germany, after all, that so many people requested to have their homes blocked out on Google Maps Street View that the service became almost useless. But as we all know by now, if Google is the Darth Vader of online privacy, then Facebook is the universe-crushing Emperor Palpatine. And it's Facebook that's attracting the fire of the rebel alliance - to stretch a metaphor to breaking point - right now.

The issue in question is the fate of a trade dispute on the planet of Naboo Facebook's new face recognition features. You may have noticed that recently, when you've uploaded a picture, instead of just inviting you to tag your friends, Facebook has actually suggested who it thinks might be in the picture. It does this through nifty facial recognition technology.

Of course, not everyone likes the idea of having their face recognised by a robot. And so you can, if you fiddle with your Facebook privacy settings, opt out of being recognised (and in doing so, presumably, opt out of being tagged in your lazier friends' photos). But that's not enough for those marvellous, crazy Germans.

According to the Data Protection Agency of Hamburg, Facebook is violating the EU rules on data protection, that require companies to get permission before harvesting 'biometric data'. Letting users turn the feature off isn't enough, they say - you should have to give permission to get into it at all. The spat could lead to a fine of around £300,000, according to Engadget.

Do you find Facebook's face recognition creepy? Or are you happy to save time on photo-tagging?

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