Privacy Experts Gave Up on Facial Recognition Talks With Big Tech Firms

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A team of privacy lobbyists have been working with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to “craft privacy safeguards for the commercial use of facial recognition technology.” But talks with major technology firms have gone so badly that they’ve abandoned the discussions.


The goal of the discussions, started last year, was to bring together “representatives from technology companies, trade groups, consumer groups, academic institutions and other organizations” in order to “develop a voluntary, enforceable code of conduct that specifies how the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights applies to facial recognition technology in the commercial context.”

It hasn’t gone well. In a statement published yesterday, nine privacy advocates—including Jennifer Lynch from Electronic Frontier Foundation and Gabriel Rottman, American Civil Liberties Union, among others—explained that they had been unable to make any progress after twelve meetings. As a result, they’ve pulled out of the talks. They write:

“At a base minimum, people should be able to walk down a public street without fear that companies they’ve never heard of are tracking their every movement — and identifying them by name – using facial recognition technology. Unfortunately, we have been unable to obtain agreement even with that basic, specific premise.”

Speaking to the The Interceptt, Alvaro Bedoya from the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law explained that “[p]eople simply do not expect companies they’ve never heard of to secretly track them using this powerful technology. Despite all of this, industry associations have pushed for a world where companies can use facial recognition on you whenever they want – no matter what you say.” For now, that situation doesn’t look to be getting any better. [The Intercept]



Looks like my kids will be getting prosthetic faces for their eighteenth birthdays.