FTC: Companies should limit facial recognition in some cases
The agency releases a list of guidelines and best practices for the use of facial recognition technology
IDG News Service - Web companies using facial recognition technology should avoid identifying anonymous images of consumers to someone who could not otherwise identify them, unless the companies have the consumers' consent, a U.S. Federal Trade Commission report said.
Companies using facial recognition software should also obtain consumer consent before using images or any biometric data in a different way than they originally represented when they collected the data, the FTC said in guidelines for the use of facial recognition software released Monday.
Users of the emerging technology should also develop reasonable security protections for the information they collect and sound methods for determining when to keep and when to dispose of information, the FTC report said.
"Fortunately, the commercial use of facial recognition technologies is still young," the FTC report said. "This creates a unique opportunity to ensure that as this industry grows, it does so in a way that respects the privacy interests of consumers while preserving the beneficial uses the technology has to offer."
Facebook, when rolling out its facial recognition feature in mid-2011, said it would help users tag photos of friends and family members. Privacy groups complained that the company was collecting new personal data without asking users for permission.
The use of facial recognition by Web companies, including Facebook, and government agencies, including the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, has raised concerns from privacy advocates and some lawmakers. In July, U.S. Senator Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, said that legislation may be needed to limit the way government agencies and private companies use the technology.
In September, Facebook turned off its facial recognition feature for users in the European Union after privacy regulators there raised concerns.
A Facebook spokesman said the company was examining the FTC report, but didn't have an immediate comment.
The report recommends best practices for companies using or planning to use facial recognition software, the FTC report said. The best practices, where they go beyond existing legal requirements, are not intended to "serve as a template" for future FTC enforcement actions, the report said.
"If companies consider the issues of privacy by design, meaningful choice, and transparency at this early stage, it will help ensure that this industry develops in a way that encourages companies to offer innovative new benefits to consumers and respect their privacy interests," the report said.
The commission voted 4-1 to release the report, with Republican Commissioner Thomas Rosch dissenting. The report "goes too far, too soon," he wrote.
The report suggests companies should first get permission from consumers to use facial recognition software in a "broad swath of contexts," when opt-in permission may not be necessary, he added.
"I disagree with the adoption of 'best practices' on the ground that facial recognition may be misused," Rosch wrote. "There is nothing to establish that this misconduct has occurred or even that it is likely to occur in the near future."
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is email@example.com.
- Silicon Valley's 19 Coolest Places to Work
- Is Windows 8 Development Worth the Trouble?
- 8 Books Every IT Leader Should Read This Year
- 10 Hot Hadoop Startups to Watch
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Data on the Move = Business on the Move; How Strategic Secure Managed File Transfer Adds Value and Drives Business This whitepaper describes the formal and informal file-sharing methods business employees use to perform their daily functions and explains that, from sending small...
- Infographic: Converged Infrastructure Benefits This Infographic quantifies the savings organizations are realizing from increased deployment speed, higher availability, and lower annual costs.
- CIOs Deliver Productivity Breakthroughs with Intelligent Digital Signage Retailers have long recognized the influence that digital signage provides over a shopper's point-of-purchase decision making process.
- Going Paperless? Here's What You Need to Think About As makers of some of the world's most popular PDF solutions, we often consult with businesses & governmental agencies that have the goal...
- Supercharge Your Web and Mobile App Development with High-Productivity Hybrid Cloud Webinar: Hear from industry experts about the amazing power at the intersection of next-generation web and mobile application development and cloud platforms.
Enhance Your Virtualization Infrastructure With IBM and Vmware
Date: Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
Virtualization technology is now expanding beyond the server compute elements to encompass networking and storage...
All Internet White Papers |
Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!