Privacy is taking another hit to the chops. A Swedish firm named The Astonishing Tribe has created an application called Recognizr which allows you to snap a picture of a total stranger, then it crawls the web to find information about that person.
Stalker's dream, anyone?
Well, if you believe the sensationalist media, yes, but in reality, not quite. It's an opt-in service so what we're really talking about is, people who don't understand the implications voluntarily opting-in (e.g. singles who think it would be a fun way to meet people), unscrupulous entities that opt you in without your consent, or perhaps an employer demanding that their staff opt-in. You think not? I saw an ad seeking an employee for Best Buy that required the candidate to have a Twitter account and at least 250 followers.
Based on what we see with social networking, plenty of people don't seem to be too concerned about their privacy so there'll potentially be plenty of 'volunteers' from the 1st group. My guess is that the 2nd group would quickly be discovered, lambasted from one end of the Web to the other and quickly shut down (Google Buzz, anyone?). As for the 3rd? That's a question for the future.
As a lawyer, I certainly can envision practical uses for the application. I've been to trials where there's a person who sits at the back of the courtroom every day, I know they have an interest in the case (e.g. insurance carrier's attorney) but they won't tell me who they are or why they're there. Wouldn't I love a tool that would tell me for them…