Identifying people from their images posted online could soon be a reality, as a software firm has announced that it has developed a revolutionary technology that will give a name to every photograph in the Internet.
Face.com, which is yet to release the facial recognition technology, said the software can help netizens identify people on social networking sites and online galleries by comparing their images against known pictures of them.
It means detailed profiles of individuals can be built up purely from online photographs and critics have said it could lead to exploitation by employers, the Daily Mail reported.
According to its developers, the software works by creating an algorithm of the face -- a measurement of the arrangement of features including the eyes, nose and mouth.
The company claimed it is 90 per cent accurate when scanning typical images which appear on social networking sites.
"We have launched a service that allows developers to take our facial recognition technology and apply it immediately to their own applications," Gil Hirsch, chief executive of Face.com, was quoted as saying.
"The technology is already being used by 5,000 developers. You can basically search for people in any photo.
"You could search for family members on Flickr, in newspapers, or in videos on YouTube -- but it would take a lot of processing power."
The use of facial detection technology has only been used by the UK Border Agency. Google has a tool -- Picasa -- which allows users to organise their photos by tagging matching faces and Facebook uses Photo Finder.
Supporters of the software, including the Red Cross, have said it could be used to track people lost in humanitarian disasters.
But there are strong concerns over the accuracy of the technology and its impact on privacy.
Simon Davies, director of Privacy International, said: "I think this will make many people very uneasy.
"The regulators have been hugely behind the curve of protecting people's privacy on the Internet. We need to push for much tighter international rules."