Setting expiry date for photos that you upload to the internet has become possible. German IT professor Michael Backes has developed X-pire that easily allows a user to set the expiry of photos. He presented the so-called “web eraser” to the Consumer Protection Ministry. It can delete pictures according to the conditions set by the user. The availability of this tool is believed to be the first step towards regaining control over uploaded pictures. So far, owners of photos lose control over the pictures that they share online so problems crop up sooner or later.
Backes explained how the tool works. Photos are first encrypted before these can be uploaded. This limits the photo’s accessibility. A special plug-in is required on the browser so that the viewer can see the image. The “key” contained in the plug-in unlocks access to the image. Using X-pire, this key expires on the date specified by the user. The picture can no longer be accessed and hence “erased” from the web. This is how the tool gives the user control over his photos.
This new system might put an end to the problem which many users encounter regarding abuse of uploaded pictures. Pictures in the net have been used with malicious intentions and this has caused unpleasant experiences. Once pictures are uploaded, they can stay there for eternity. Imagine the host of pictures uploaded in Facebook or Picasa. Having no control over them, the owner is at risk of problems coming his or her way sooner or later. Many have experienced the “Streisand effect” which up to now haunts many people.
Although X-pire promises to work well, it is not 100% effective. It has a downside especially when comes to its performance as admitted by Backes himself. However, he sees it as a good start for something more useful and practical. This would inspire other workers to develop their own “web eraser”, with fewer hitches. Users are always reminded to think well before uploading any picture. What seems to be “harmless” today might be a big “headache” years after.
A user loses control over his or her uploaded photos and leaves all possibilities to anyone who views them. The most common of all is using these photos for privacy invasion of the owner. Once these pictures are copied or downloaded, the list of what might happen is endless. With X-pire, there is limit in copying, or downloading.
The tool is now in its initial test phase. After this is completed, Backes will make it available to users. He stated that he intends to charge a monthly flat rate for his service or at $13 for unlimited use. This would mean spending more for added protection to their photos on the part of the users. X-pire will surely become a new name in photo sharing.Tags: Encryption, Invasion of Privacy, Privacy Issues, security issues