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FTC Position on Facial Recognition Technology & Privacy Issues

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  • Peter Psarouthakis
    FTC Testifies on Commercial Uses of Facial Recognition Technologies Agency Will Recommend Best Practices to Safeguard Privacy, Security The Federal Trade
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 18, 2012
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      FTC Testifies on Commercial Uses of Facial Recognition Technologies


      Agency Will Recommend Best Practices to Safeguard Privacy, Security


      The Federal Trade Commission today told a Senate Judiciary subcommittee that
      the <http://www.ftc.gov/os/testimony/120718facialrecognition.pdf> FTC is
      examining the benefits to consumers, as well as privacy and security
      concerns regarding current and possible future commercial uses of facial
      recognition technologies and will make recommendations later this year on
      best practices for companies that use these new technologies.


      The recommendations will build on comments from a recent FTC workshop on
      facial recognition technology, and on the three core principles from
      <http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2012/03/privacyframework.shtm> the agency's March
      2012 Privacy Report - privacy by design, simplified consumer choice, and
      transparency.

      The Commission testimony, delivered by Maneesha Mithal, Associate Director
      of the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, before the Subcommittee
      on Privacy, Technology and the Law, states that, "While consumers may enjoy
      the benefits associated with advancements to these technologies . . . there
      are also concerns that the technologies may increase the risks to consumer
      privacy."


      Facial recognition technologies are used in a wide variety of contexts,
      including digital signs, mobile applications, and social networks, the
      testimony states. They range from pure facial detection, which simply means
      detecting a face in an image, to biometric analysis of facial images, in
      which unique mathematical data are derived from a face in order to match it
      to another face. According to the testimony, the technologies also can be
      used to determine the demographic characteristics of a face, such as age
      range and gender, and to recognize emotions from facial expressions.


      "Recognizing that the commercial use of these technologies will likely
      continue to grow, the FTC has sought to understand how these technologies
      are being used, how they could be used, and how they will shape consumers'
      commercial experiences," the testimony states.


      The testimony described recent advances in facial recognition technologies,
      current and possible future commercial uses, and privacy considerations the
      FTC is examining.


      FTC staff will issue a report later this year recommending best practices
      for using the technologies in a manner that respects consumer privacy. The
      report will be based on panelist discussions at
      <http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/workshops/facefacts/> the December 2011 FTC facial
      recognition technologies workshop, as well as comments received following
      the workshop from private citizens and industry, trade groups, consumer and
      privacy advocates, think tanks, and members of Congress. The report will not
      serve as a template for law enforcement actions or regulations under laws
      currently enforced by the FTC, the testimony states.

      The Commission also is considering how the three core principles from the
      agency's March 2012 Privacy Report can be applied to the use of facial
      recognition technologies:


      * <http://us.mc1628.mail.yahoo.com/mc/PicExportError> Privacy by
      Design - companies should build in privacy at every stage of product
      development, including reasonable security for consumer data, collecting
      only the data that is consistent with the context of a particular
      transaction or the consumer's relationship with the business, retaining data
      only as long as necessary to fulfill the purpose for which it was collected,
      safely disposing of data no longer being used, and implementing reasonable
      procedures to promote data accuracy;


      * <http://us.mc1628.mail.yahoo.com/mc/PicExportError> Simplified
      Consumer Choice - for practices that are not consistent with the context of
      a transaction or a consumer's relationship with a business, companies should
      provide consumers with choices at a relevant time and context, and should
      obtain affirmative consent before collecting sensitive data or using
      consumer data in a materially different manner than claimed when the data
      was collected; and


      * <http://us.mc1628.mail.yahoo.com/mc/PicExportError> Greater
      Transparency - companies should increase the transparency of their data
      practices so that interested parties can compare data practices and choices
      across companies, and companies - particularly those that do not interact
      directly with consumers, such as data brokers - should provide consumers
      with reasonable access to the data that the companies maintain about them.


      The Commission vote authorizing the testimony was 5-0, with Commissioner J.
      Thomas Rosch issuing a
      <http://www.ftc.gov/speeches/rosch/120718facialrecognitionrosch.pdf>
      separate statement, dissenting in part.


      Bruce Hulme


      ISPLA Director of Government Affairs


      <http://www.ispla.org/> www.ISPLA.org









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