Category Archives: Hive Mind

Majoring in Minors: Turning Our Schools Into Totalitarian Enclaves

school_dees

huffingtonpost.com | Feb 2, 2013

by John W. Whitehead

Just as the 9/11 terrorist attacks created a watershed between the freedoms we enjoyed and our awareness of America’s vulnerability to attack, so the spate of school shootings over the past 10-plus years from Columbine to Newtown has drastically altered the way young people are perceived and treated, transforming them from innocent bystanders into both victims and culprits. Consequently, school officials, attempting to both protect and control young people, have adopted draconian zero-tolerance policies, stringent security measures and cutting-edge technologies that have all but transformed the schools into quasi-prisons.

In their zeal to make the schools safer, school officials have succumbed to a near-manic paranoia about anything even remotely connected to guns and violence, such that a child who brings a piece of paper loosely shaped like a gun to school is treated as harshly as the youngster who brings an actual gun. Yet by majoring in minors, as it were, treating all students as suspects and harshly punishing kids for innocent mistakes, the schools are setting themselves and us up for failure — not only by focusing on the wrong individuals and allowing true threats to go undetected but also by treating young people as if they have no rights, thereby laying the groundwork for future generations that are altogether ignorant of their rights as citizens and unprepared to defend them.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the increasingly harsh punishments and investigative tactics being doled out on young people for engaging in childish behavior or for daring to challenge the authority of school officials. Whereas in the past minor behavioral infractions at school such as shooting spitwads may have warranted a trip to the principal’s office, in-school detention or a phone call to one’s parents; today, they are elevated to the level of criminal behavior with all that implies. Consequently, young people are now being forcibly removed by police officers from the classroom, strip searched, arrested, handcuffed, transported in the back of police squad cars, and placed in police holding cells until their frantic parents can get them out. For those unlucky enough to be targeted for such punishment, the experience will stay with them long after they are allowed back at school. In fact, it will stay with them for the rest of their lives in the form of a criminal record.

Consider the case of Wilson Reyes, a seven-year-old elementary school student from the Bronx who got into a scuffle with a classmate over a $5 bill. In response to the incident, school officials called police, who arrested Reyes, transported him to the police station and allegedly handcuffed the child to a wall and interrogated him for ten hours about his behavior and the location of the money. His family is in the midst of pursuing a lawsuit against the police and the city for their egregious behavior.

A North Carolina public school allegedly strip-searched a 10-year-old boy in search of a $20 bill lost by another student, despite the fact that the boy, J.C., twice told school officials he did not have the missing money. The assistant principal, a woman, reportedly ordered the fifth grader to disrobe down to his underwear and subjected him to an aggressive strip-search that included rimming the edge of his underwear. The missing money was later found in the school cafeteria.

And in Chicago, a 15-year-old boy accused by an anonymous tipster of holding drugs was taken to a locker room by two security guards, a Chicago police officer, and a female assistant principal, and made to stand against a wall and drop his pants while one of the security guards inspected his genitals. No drugs were found.

That students as young as seven years old are being strip searched by school officials, over missing money no less, flies in the face of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2009 ruling in Safford Unified. Sch. Dist. v. Redding. Insisting that Arizona school officials violated the Fourth Amendment rights of a 13-year-old girl when they strip-searched her on the suspicion she was hiding ibuprofen in her underwear, the justices declared that educators cannot force children to remove their clothing unless student safety is at risk.

Precedent-setting or not, however, the Court’s ruling has done little to improve conditions for young people who are the unfortunate casualties in the schools’ so-called quest for “student safety.” Indeed, with each school shooting, the climate of intolerance for “unacceptable” behavior such as getting into food fights, playing tag, doodling, hugging, kicking, and throwing temper tantrums only intensifies. And as surveillance cameras, metal detectors, police patrols, zero tolerance policies, lock downs, drug sniffing dogs and strip searches become the norm in elementary, middle and high schools across the nation, the punishments being meted out for childish behavior grow harsher.

Even the most innocuous “infractions” are being shown no leniency, with school officials expelling a 6-year-old girl for bringing a clear plastic toy gun to school, issuing a disciplinary warning to a 5-year-old boy who brought a toy gun built out of LEGOs to class, and pulling out of school a fifth-grade girl who had a “paper” gun with her in class. The six-year-old kindergarten student in South Carolina was classified as such a threat that she’s not even allowed on school grounds. “She cannot even be in my vehicle when I go to pick up my other children,” said the girl’s mom, Angela McKinney.

Nine-year-old Patrick Timoney was sent to the principal’s office and threatened with suspension after school officials discovered that one of his LEGOs was holding a 2-inch toy gun. That particular LEGO, a policeman, was Patrick’s favorite because his father is a retired police officer. David Morales, an 8-year-old Rhode Island student, ran afoul of his school’s zero tolerance policies after he wore a hat to school decorated with an American flag and tiny plastic Army figures in honor of American troops. School officials declared the hat out of bounds because the toy soldiers were carrying miniature guns. A 7-year-old New Jersey boy, described by school officials as “a nice kid” and “a good student,” was reported to the police and charged with possessing an imitation firearm after he brought a toy Nerf-style gun to school. The gun shoots soft ping pong-type balls.

School officials are also exhibiting zero tolerance for the age-old game of cops and robbers, a playground game I played as a child. In a new wrinkle on this old game, however, it’s not the cop who gets the bad guy. Now, the game ends when school officials summon real cops who arrest the kindergartners for engaging in juvenile crime. That happened at a New Jersey school, from which four little boys were suspended for pretending their fingers were guns. Most recently, two children at two different schools in Maryland were suspended in the same month for separate incidents of pretending their fingers were guns. In another instance, officials at a California elementary school called police when a little boy was caught playing cops and robbers at recess. The principal told the child’s parents their child was a terrorist.

Unwittingly, the principal was right on target: These are acts of terrorism, however, the culprits are not overactive schoolchildren. Rather, those guilty of terrorizing young children and parents nationwide are school officials who — in an effort to enforce zero tolerance policies against violence, weapons and drugs — have moved our schools into a lockdown mentality.

Things have gotten so bad that it doesn’t even take a toy gun, pretend or otherwise, to raise the ire of school officials. A high school sophomore was suspended for violating the school’s no-cell-phone policy after he took a call from his father, a master sergeant in the U.S. Army who was serving in Iraq at the time. A 12-year-old New York student was hauled out of school in handcuffs for doodling on her desk with an erasable marker. In Houston, an 8th grader was suspended for wearing rosary beads to school in memory of her grandmother (the school has a zero tolerance policy against the rosary, which the school insists can be interpreted as a sign of gang involvement). And in Oklahoma, school officials suspended a first grader simply for using his hand to simulate a gun.

With the distinctions between student offenses erased, and all offenses expellable, we now find ourselves in the midst of what TIME magazine described as a “national crackdown on Alka-Seltzer.” Indeed, at least 20 children in four states have been suspended from school for possession of the fizzy tablets in violation of zero tolerance drug policies. In some jurisdictions, carrying cough drops, wearing black lipstick or dying your hair blue are actually expellable offenses.

Students have also been penalized for such inane “crimes” as bringing nail clippers to school, using Listerine or Scope, and carrying fold-out combs that resemble switchblades. A 9-year-old boy in Manassas, Va., who gave a Certs breath mint to a classmate, was actually suspended, while a 12-year-old boy who said he brought powdered sugar to school for a science project was charged with a felony for possessing a look-alike drug. Another 12-year-old was handcuffed and jailed after he stomped in a puddle, splashing classmates. After students at a Texas school were assigned to write a “scary” Halloween story, one 13-year-old chose to write about shooting up a school. Although he received a passing grade on the story, school officials reported him to the police, resulting in his spending six days in jail before it was determined that no crime had been committed.

These incidents, while appalling, are the byproducts of an age that values security over freedom, where police have relatively limitless powers to search individuals and homes by virtue of their badge, and where the Constitution is increasingly treated as a historic relic rather than a bulwark against government abuses. Where we go from here is anyone’s guess, but the future doesn’t look good from where I’m sitting — not for freedom as we know it, and certainly not for the young people being raised on a diet of abject compliance to police authority, intolerance for minor offenses, overt surveillance and outright totalitarianism.

iBrain can ‘read your mind’, upload it to computers

yahoo.com | Apr 9, 2012

By Eric Pfeiffer

 


Dr. Philip Low wearing the "iBrain" (Misha Gravenor/TechnologyReview.com)

A team of California scientists have developed the world’s first portable brain scanner, and it may soon be able to “read a person’s mind,” playing a major role in facilitating medical breakthroughs.

“This is very exciting for us because it allows us to have a window into the brain. We’re building technology that will allow humanity to have access to the human brain for the first time,” said the project’s leader, Phillip Low.

KGTV reports that the device, created by San Diego-based NeuroVigil, and dubbed the iBrain, fits over a person’s head and measures unique neurological patterns connected to specific thought processes.

Low says the goal is to eventually have a large enough database of these brainwaves that a computer could essentially read a person’s thoughts out loud. One person who has already tried out the iBrain is famed physicist Dr. Stephen Hawking.

“We’d like to find a way to bypass his body, pretty much hack his brain,” said Low. This past summer, Low traveled to Cambridge, England, where he met with Hawking, who was asked to think “very hard” about completing various tasks while wearing the device.

NeuroVigil says the device could be used at home by individuals and worn during sleep. It comes equipped with a USB port for transferring the recorded data to a local computer.

Beyond so-called mind reading, the device has potential medical applications, such as enlisting the iBrain to help doctors prescribe the correct levels of medication based on a person’s brainwave responses.

“This is the first step to personalized medicine,” Low said.

5th graders mass-mutilate themselves during class in ‘protest against bullying’


A picture of one student’s injuries from the mass-cutting at Normandie Avenue Elementary School last week

Daily Mail | Mar 17, 2012

More than a dozen 5th grade students mutilated themselves during class using the blades in pencil sharpeners.

A student is believed to have dislodged the blade and passed it around class in the mass-cutting while a substitute teacher was not paying attention.

Several children were taken to hospital, where one child still remains after the incident in Los Angeles last week.

The Los Angeles Unified School District confirmed the incident happened at the Normandie Avenue Elementary School, reports the Huffington Post.

‘I think it was something about the bullying. They got all crazy and started cutting themselves.’ a classmate, who witnessed the cutting, told CBS LA.

The class was interviewed by the district officials but it is not yet known if the students were victims of bullies.

Pia Escudero, who runs LAUSD’s mental-health program, told CBS2 that this was typical elementary-school behavior.

‘We see a lot of behavior that is similar to this, children seeking help,. Attention-seeking, suicide behavior — or doing things that aren’t healthy,’ she said.

The school is located within a relatively low-income neighborhood of South L.A,  with a demographic which is about 70 percent Latino and 30 percent black.

Neuroscience could mean soldiers controlling weapons with minds


Medevac troops from the American 451st air expeditionary wing look out from their Pavehawk helicopter while heading to pick up casualties in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Photograph: Sean Smith for the Guardian

Neuroscience breakthroughs could be harnessed by military and law enforcers, says Royal Society report

Guardian | Feb 6, 2012

by Ian Sample

Soldiers could have their minds plugged directly into weapons systems, undergo brain scans during recruitment and take courses of neural stimulation to boost their learning, if the armed forces embrace the latest developments in neuroscience to hone the performance of their troops.

These scenarios are described in a report into the military and law enforcement uses of neuroscience, published on Tuesday, which also highlights a raft of legal and ethical concerns that innovations in the field may bring.

The report by the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science, says that while the rapid advance of neuroscience is expected to benefit society and improve treatments for brain disease and mental illness, it also has substantial security applications that should be carefully analysed.

The report’s authors also anticipate new designer drugs that boost performance, make captives more talkative and make enemy troops fall asleep.

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“Neuroscience will have more of an impact in the future,” said Rod Flower, chair of the report’s working group.

“People can see a lot of possibilities, but so far very few have made their way through to actual use.

“All leaps forward start out this way. You have a groundswell of ideas and suddenly you get a step change.”

The authors argue that while hostile uses of neuroscience and related technologies are ever more likely, scientists remain almost oblivious to the dual uses of their research.

The report calls for a fresh effort to educate neuroscientists about such uses of the work early in their careers.

Some techniques used widely in neuroscience are on the brink of being adopted by the military to improve the training of soldiers, pilots and other personnel.

A growing body of research suggests that passing weak electrical signals through the skull, using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), can improve people’s performance in some tasks.

One study cited by the report described how US neuroscientists employed tDCS to improve people’s ability to spot roadside bombs, snipers and other hidden threats in a virtual reality training programme used by US troops bound for the Middle East.

“Those who had tDCS learned to spot the targets much quicker,” said Vince Clark, a cognitive neuroscientist and lead author on the study at the University of New Mexico. “Their accuracy increased twice as fast as those who had minimal brain stimulation. I was shocked that the effect was so large.”

Clark, whose wider research on tDCS could lead to radical therapies for those with dementia, psychiatric disorders and learning difficulties, admits to a tension in knowing that neuroscience will be used by the military.

“As a scientist I dislike that someone might be hurt by my work. I want to reduce suffering, to make the world a better place, but there are people in the world with different intentions, and I don’t know how to deal with that.

“If I stop my work, the people who might be helped won’t be helped. Almost any technology has a defence application.”

Research with tDCS is in its infancy, but work so far suggests it might help people by boosting their attention and memory. According to the Royal Society report, when used with brain imaging systems, tDCS “may prove to be the much sought-after tool to enhance learning in a military context”.

One of the report’s most striking scenarios involves the use of devices called brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) to connect people’s brains directly to military technology, including drones and other weapons systems.

The work builds on research that has enabled people to control cursors and artificial limbs through BMIs that read their brain signals.

“Since the human brain can process images, such as targets, much faster than the subject is consciously aware of, a neurally interfaced weapons system could provide significant advantages over other system control methods in terms of speed and accuracy,” the report states.

The authors go on to stress the ethical and legal concerns that surround the use of BMIs by the military. Flower, a professor of pharmacology at the William Harvey Research Institute at Barts and the London hospital, said: “If you are controlling a drone and you shoot the wrong target or bomb a wedding party, who is responsible for that action? Is it you or the BMI?

“There’s a blurring of the line between individual responsibility and the functioning of the machine. Where do you stop and the machine begin?”

Another tool expected to enter military use is the EEG (electroencephalogram), which uses a hairnet of electrodes to record brainwaves through the skull. Used with a system called “neurofeedback”, people can learn to control their brainwaves and improve their skills.

According to the report, the technique has been shown to improve training in golfers and archers.

The US military research organisation, Darpa, has already used EEG to help spot targets in satellite images that were missed by the person screening them. The EEG traces revealed that the brain sometimes noticed targets but failed to make them conscious thoughts. Staff used the EEG traces to select a group of images for closer inspection and improved their target detection threefold, the report notes.

Work on brain connectivity has already raised the prospect of using scans to select fast learners during recruitment drives.

Research last year by Scott Grafton at the University of California, Santa Barbara, drew on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans to measure the flexibility of brain networks. They found that a person’s flexibility helped predict how quickly they would learn a new task.

Other studies suggest neuroscience could help distinguish risk-takers from more conservative decision-makers, and so help with assessments of whether they are better suited to peacekeeping missions or special forces, the report states.

“Informal assessment occurs routinely throughout the military community. The issue is whether adopting more formal techniques based on the results of research in neuroeconomics, neuropsychology and other neuroscience disciplines confers an advantage in decision-making.”

Technocracy Endgame: Global Smart Grid


The GENI project is gathering momentum and is endorsed by the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Sen. James Jeffords (I-VT) and Noel Brown (North American Director, United Nations Environmental Program), the United Nations and by the governments of Canada New Zealand, Switzerland, and China, among others.

“There is a new world wide web emerging right before our eyes. It is a global energy network and, like the internet, it will change our culture, society and how we do business. More importantly, it will alter how we use, transform and exchange energy.”

– Terrawatts.com home page

augustreview.com | Jun 23, 2011

By Patrick Wood

The dark horse of the New World Order is not Communism, Socialism or Fascism: It is Technocracy.

The development and implementation of Smart Grid technology in the U.S. – reinventing the electrical grid with Wifi-enabled digital power meters – is proceeding at breakneck speed. Although Smart Grid is the result of years of government planning, the recent kickoff was made possible through massive “green” grants that were quietly included in President Obama’s economic stimulus package starting in 2009.

These lucrative grants have drawn in a host of corporate players, from utility companies to digital meter manufacturers to control software vendors. Global companies like IBM, GE and Siemens are putting their full effort behind the “build-out” that will consolidate all of America into a single, integrated, communication-enabled electric delivery and monitoring system, collectively called Smart Grid.

Proponents of Smart Grid claim that it will empower the consumer to better manage his or her power consumption and hence, costs. The utility companies will therefore be more efficient in balancing power loads and requirements across diverse markets.

However, like carnival barkers, these Smart Grid hocksters never reveal where or how SmartGrid came into being, nor what the ultimate endgame aims to achieve; perhaps most of them have no idea either, but simply repeat the mantra as if they know what they are talking about.

In SmartGrid: The Implementation of Technocracy?, I revealed the background of both Technocracy and Smart Grid, and most importantly, the links between them. Smart Grid is born out of Technocracy and not the other way around.

Technocracy is a totalitarian system of government where scientists, engineers and technicians monitor and control all facets of personal and civic life – economic, social and political. Herein lies the real danger: Who are these unelected controllers and why should anyone believe that they would be benevolent dictators instead of tyrants? Americans are a freedom-loving people who would certainly reject Technocracy’s stealth takeover, if only they were aware of it. Indeed, Americans did pointedly reject Technocracy in the 1930’s!

Thirty years ago, a researcher’s mantra was “Follow the money, follow the power.” This must now be restated: “Follow the energy, follow the power.”

Full Story

IBM: Resistance is unnecessary, the Borg will be assimilated comfortably


“Star Trek” captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) is fitted with gizmos for a fictional Borg transformation. The blending of humans and hardware will probably be more artful in real life by 2111. Paramount Pictures

This wouldn’t be a Borg-like assimilation, in which humans look increasingly like machines. Rather, the machines would blend into the human body.

IBM thinks about the next 100 years

MSNBC | Jun 16, 2011

By Alan Boyle

A hundred years from now, will we be assimilated by the machines? Or will we assimilate them? These are the kinds of issues facing International Business Machines as the company begins its second 100 years.

Right now, most folks are thinking about the past 100 years at IBM, which is celebrating the centennial of its founding on Thursday. But for Bernard Meyerson, the company’s vice president of innovation, it’s all about the next century.

“That’s pretty much what we think about,” Meyerson told me today.

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Meyerson has plenty to look back on, including his own not-so-small part in IBM’s past innovations. When his cell phone dropped the connection during our telephone conversation, he called back and casually mentioned that he had a hand in creating the transistors built into that cell phone. And when I asked him to explain, he said, “I actually invented the technology known as silicon-germanium.”

It turns out that IBM has played a behind-the-scenes role in all sorts of technologies, ranging from semiconductor development to barcodes to Wi-Fi. “IBM is a funny company,” Meyerson said. “We don’t force you to put a little sticker on anything that says, ‘We’re the smart guys.'”

IBM Centennial Film

But enough about the past: What about the future? “Going forward, you have tremendous opportunities,” particularly when it comes to making sense of the huge databases that are being built up in all sorts of fields, Meyerson said. For example, imagine a system that can take medical records from the 285 million people around the world with diabetes, anonymize those records and analyze them, looking for potential new treatments or preventive measures.

“The fact is, there is no mechanism today that could do that, and the reason is that medical data is unstructured,” he said. There’s little consistency in how the records are kept, and medical conditions might be described in different ways by different doctors.

When you put together the volumes of data and the numbers of people that have to be covered in these massive, unstructured data sets, the figures mount up to quintillions of bytes. That’s the challenge facing new types of computing tools — for example, the Watson supercomputer, which won a highly publicized “Jeopardy” quiz-show match earlier this year. Now Watson is being put to work on a tougher task: making sense of medical records, which is just the kind of job Meyerson has in mind.

Still other challenges await. Watson-style computers could digest the millions of data points involved in tracking the flow of highway traffic, then develop models to predict where the tie-ups could arise before they actually happen. The computers of the next century will have to handle a wide range of “big data” challenges, ranging from climate modeling to natural-language search engines for multimedia.

Meyerson doesn’t expect Watson to answer that challenge completely. A hundred years from now, Watson will almost certainly be considered a quaint antique, much like the tabulating machines that were made back in 1911.

“Watson specifically is not the issue, as much as the combination of Watson’s ability to interpret natural language, the capacity to store ‘big data’ and apply data analytics to come up with solutions for society,” he said. “In the absence of natural language, you’re going to have a short, unhappy life attempting this work. Without that key ingredient, how are you going to take the interaction of humans and machines to the next level and make it easy?”

What will the next level be in the year 2111? “Honestly, at 100 years I’m genuinely unsure,” Meyerson said. The past century has shown that the pace of technological advancement can be highly variable, depending on what kinds of breakthroughs come to the fore. But if Meyerson had to bet on one particular game-changing technology, it would be coming up with a direct interface between computing circuits and the human brain.

“If it turns out that there is a very natural way to communicate data back and forth without being obtrusive, then the whole world changes,” he told me. This wouldn’t be a Borg-like assimilation, in which humans look increasingly like machines. Rather, the machines would blend into the human body.

Does that sound like a grand dream for the next century? Or a nightmare?

Facebook now knows what you look like as it rolls out face recognition by stealth


Tag your friends: Facebook’s new facial recognition technology has raised the hackles of privacy campaigners

dailymail.co.uk | Jun 9, 2011

By Damien Gayle

Facebook is at the centre of another privacy row after bringing in facial recognition technology to automatically identify users in pictures.

The world’s leading social network has begun rolling out new technology that automatically identifies and ‘tags’ people in photos uploaded to the website.

The feature has been expanded from a limited test run in the U.S. to be widened across all of the States and ‘most countries’, Facebook said on its official blog yesterday – and, by default, it’s turned on.

Facebook’s ‘Tag Suggestions’ feature is designed to speed up the process of labeling friends in photos posted on Facebook.

If a friend ‘tags’ you in one photo, the technology will automatically scan your face and then try and find matches among all their pictures.

It will then suggest that they ‘tag’ these photos of you as well.

The sudden implementation of the feature, without warning, has sparked concerns among privacy campaigners.

Daniel Hamilton, director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘Facebook users will rightly be alarmed to hear that their private information will be used in this way. This is yet another nail in the coffin for online privacy.

‘Websites like Facebook owe it to their users to respect their privacy, not to scan their photo albums with facial recognition software.’

And not all commentators are convinced that opting out will do you any good.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal, of PC World magazine, said: ‘Opting out won’t keep Facebook from gathering data and recognizing your face – it’ll just keep people from tagging you automatically.’

She also warns: ‘Facial recognition technology will ultimately culminate in the ability to search for people using just a picture.

‘And that will be the end of privacy as we know it–imagine, a world in which someone can simply take a photo of you on the street, in a crowd, or with a telephoto lens, and discover everything about you on the internet.’

Internet security consultant firm Sophos first reported the change yesterday, after Facebook users reported that the site had enabled the facial recognition option in the past few days without giving users any notice.

‘Yet again, it feels like Facebook is eroding the online privacy of its users by stealth,’ wrote Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at Sophos, in a blog post.

Facebook, which announced in December that it planned to introduce the service in the U.S., acknowledged that the feature was in fact now more widely available.

When asked about the Sophos blog post, a spokesman for the company conceded that they ‘should have been more clear with people during the roll-out process’.

They made clear that tag suggestions would only be made to friends of those pictured, and that the users can switch off the feature to stop their names being put forward.

But Marc Rotenberg, President of the non-profit privacy advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center, noted that other companies had offered more users more control when implementing facial recognition features.

He highlighted Apple’s iPhoto software, which let users decide whether or not to use the technology with their personal photo collections.

Facebook’s technology, by contrast, operates independently, analysing faces across a broad swathe of newly uploaded photos.

Mr Rotenberg said such a system raised questions about which personally identifiable information, such as email addresses, would become associated with the photos in Facebook’s database.

He also criticised Facebook’s decision to automatically enable the facial-recognition technology for Facebook users.

‘I’m not sure that’s the setting that people would want to choose. A better option would be to let people opt in,’ he said.


Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, pictured in April, argued last year that privacy is no longer a ‘social norm’

A serious concern intially expressed over Facebook and other social networks is the ability to publish photographs online without any express permission from those pictured.

Although it is possible for users to ‘de-tag’ themselves, those pictured cannot demand photographs removed.

The new feature will raise fears among those who have photographs they would prefer do not come to light.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal suggests as well as switching off facial recognition that users post random pictures of trees and stuffed animals and tag them with their name.

A spokesman from Facebook said: ‘We launched Tag Suggestions to help people add tags of their friends in photos; something that’s currently done more than 100 million times a day.

‘Tag Suggestions are only made to people when they add new photos to the site, and only friends are suggested.’

It emerged last week that Google recently decided to hold back a similar application that would have let someone snap a picture of a person’s face using a smartphone, then use the internet to find out who that person is.

Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt told a conference he believed it was the first time his company’s engineers had completed a project and shelved it for privacy reasons, CNN reported.

Last year the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a complaint about Facebook’s privacy practices with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which Mr Rotenberg said was still pending.