FTC Position on Facial Recognition Technology & Privacy Issues
- 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
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
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
* <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
separate statement, dissenting in part.
ISPLA Director of Government Affairs
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