Facebook's Moments app launched this week in the U.S., and while users can now privately share photos with friends without sharing them on the social network, the app's use of facial-recognition technology will prevent it from coming to Europe.

Richard Allan, Facebook's head of policy in Europe, told the Wall Street Journal they first will have to reach an agreement with its regulator in Ireland to offer the technology.

"Regulators have told us we have to offer an opt-in choice to people to do this," Allan said. "We don't have an opt-in mechanism so it is turned off until we develop one."

Thus far, facial-recognition technology has not been embraced in Europe because of ethical challenges. The technology works by scanning a photo, then comparing a person's facial features against a database that allows Moments users to tag friends.

Facebook previously launched the feature on its website in 2010, but turned it off two years later in the EU after regulator audits.

Earlier this month, Google rolled out similar technology called Google Photos that allows users to easily search for their photos and videos. Google Photos uses facial-recognition technology to allow the user to search for a person by tapping their face.

The new technology has sparked privacy concerns both at home and overseas, with nine privacy organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, removing themselves from talks with U.S. government agencies to establish a code of conduct for the use of facial recognition.

The technology is used by the FBI and U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Photo: Facebook

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