Facebook was under fire in the past few weeks for handling the personal data of users poorly. However, what other companies can do with that data is even scarier. Recently, another news surfaced that an Israel-based surveillance company Terrogence has been using social networking sites like Facebook, YouTube, and several others for the past five years in order to build a huge facial-recognition database.
The database formed is the core of a facial recognition service called Face-Int. Verint, another Israel-based company, owned the database and then incorporated another surveillance company named Terrogence in 2017. Terrogence has been a vendor for the US government for a very long time. These companies provide spy technology to the CIA, FBI, the US Navy, and many other intelligence and security agencies. The website of the company states, “Terrogence actively monitors and collects online profiles and facial images of terrorists, criminals and other individuals believed to pose a threat to aviation security, immigration, and national security, the Face-Int database houses the profiles of thousands of suspects harvested from such online sources as YouTube, Facebook, and open and closed forums all over the globe, cultivating and operating virtual entities in online spaces, that access social media platforms legitimately and act naturally, gaining trust, forming connections, and ultimately collecting valuable intelligence.”
Terrogence basically spies on you using fake profiles. Verint launched another additional facial recognition product called “FaceDetect”, which not only identifies the individual but also allows operators to add operators to their watch list. This means that Terrogence research might not be limited to terrorism-related intelligence. A very comprehensive facial recognition database can help the US government to keep their citizens safe. Whereas the companies which are not spying or manipulating people can help authorities to identify suspects, detect terrorists in disguise, and track down missing people.
This news shows that user privacy is being violated on a large scale by anyone who can access the Facebook database. The Israel-based company Terrogence is also giving all the users a reminder that we might have caught Cambridge Analytica but it is still very important to be careful about all those organizations which are using Facebook’s data for their own purposes.