One can argue that personal anonymity is a thing of the past now that nearly everything can be found online. Sites like Google Earth show you pictures of your street, Four Square can tell you whether you’re home or at work and from Twitter you can even find out what someone had for lunch last week if they were inclined to share.

And now, with the looming release of a new mobile app that uses facial recognition technology to identify people in photos, videos and beyond, we can pretty much say that if remaining unknown was difficult before, it’s nearly impossible now.

The new mobile app, ViewdleFaces, recognizes who’s in the viewfinder of your camera and automatically tags them accordingly. The website goes on to explain how you can create faceprints of your friends that can be uploaded to any device – mobile, desktop or cloud.

Now this type of software is not new to police and government agencies but the thought of people carrying something similar around on a mobile device may give some pause.

Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal featured an article highlighting the algorithms behind Viewdle and just this afternoon Canadian law blog, Slaw, wrote an interesting post looking at this technology from a legal privacy standpoint.

It’s clear when you examine the potential implications for apps like Viewdle there could be a major impact on privacy law. Simon Fodden, Professor Emeritus at the York University Law School in Toronto, Canada and theSlaw post’s author, says: “As technological innovation races ahead, our legal response chugs along behind, losing ground. We know this is coming and will soon be as widespread as smart phones. What legal reaction is being considered?”

That’s a great question and one I’d like to pose to all of you? How do you feel about advances in technology that come at the cost of traditional expectations of privacy? What should the legal industry be preparing for as these types of technologies become more prevalent?

Viewdle isn’t clear about when it will actually release its app but as the Slaw post points out, similar technology has already been deployed by Google and Apple in its photo editing software. Google has also stated that it does currently have the capability to release a mobile facial recognition app but is delaying the release due to privacy concerns.

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