A photo storage app ‘Ever’ used customers’ private snaps to train facial recognition AI without informing users

“‘Make memories’: That’s the slogan on the website for the photo storage app Ever, accompanied by a cursive logo and an example album titled ‘Weekend with Grandpa,’” Olivia Solon and Cyrus Farivar report for NBC News. “Everything about Ever’s branding is warm and fuzzy, about sharing your ‘best moments’ while freeing up space on your phone.”

“What isn’t obvious on Ever’s website or app — except for a brief reference that was added to the privacy policy after NBC News reached out to the company in April — is that the photos people share are used to train the company’s facial recognition system, and that Ever then offers to sell that technology to private companies, law enforcement and the military,” Solon and Farivar report. “In other words, what began in 2013 as another cloud storage app has pivoted toward a far more lucrative business known as Ever AI — without telling the app’s millions of users.”

“The Ever AI website makes no mention of ‘best moments’ snapshots. Instead, in news releases, it describes how the company possesses an ‘ever-expanding private global dataset of 13 billion photos and videos’ from what the company said are tens of millions of users in 95 countries. Ever AI uses the photos to offer ‘best-in-class face recognition technology,’ the company says, which can estimate emotion, ethnicity, gender and age,” Solon and Farivar report. “Ever AI promises prospective military clients that it can ‘enhance surveillance capabilities’ and ‘identify and act on threats.’ It offers law enforcement the ability to identify faces in body-cam recordings or live video feeds.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Caveat emptor.

Until some real federal legislation is passed, its’ the Wild West out there. Those who use “free” products have likely pissed their personal data away long ago. Gone forEver. You’re not getting it back. Enjoy your “free” email, social networks, photo storage, etc.

That’s why we use Apple products, not “free, unlimited” photo storage from the likes of this “Ever” outfit or Google. With Apple, you are not the product.

A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realise that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product. But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy.

Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple. — Appel CEO Tim Cook, September 2014

This article was originally posted here