Facial-Recognition Technologies Spur Privacy Concerns

In this photo illustration the Social networking site Facebook is reflected in the eye of a man on March 25, 2009 in London, England. The British government has made proposals which would force Social networking websites such as Facebook to pass on details of users, friends and contacts to help fight terrorism.
National Journal
Laura Ryan
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Laura Ryan
Dec. 3, 2013, 6:40 a.m.

As fa­cial-read­ing tech­no­logy gains mo­mentum, poli­cy­makers are step­ping up to check in­her­ent pri­vacy risks con­nec­ted to the tech­no­logy.

The Na­tion­al Tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions and In­form­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced Tues­day that fa­cial-read­ing tech­no­logy will be the next top­ic of its on­go­ing pri­vacy study, which brings to­geth­er stake­hold­ers in the pub­lic and private sec­tors to cre­ate en­force­able rules in the busi­ness con­text. The an­nounce­ment comes two weeks after Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., pressed the agency to take up the is­sue in re­sponse to Face­book’s pri­vacy policy change to al­low the use of user pro­file pho­tos for its fa­cial-re­cog­ni­tion tech­no­logy.

“[Fa­cial-re­cog­ni­tion tech­no­logy] has ser­i­ous im­plic­a­tions for con­sumer pri­vacy and per­son­al safety,” Franken said in a let­ter to NTIA. “Un­for­tu­nately, our pri­vacy laws provide no ex­press pro­tec­tions for fa­cial-re­cog­ni­tion data; un­der cur­rent law, any com­pany can use fa­cial-re­cog­ni­tion tech­no­logy on any­one without get­ting their per­mis­sion—and without any mean­ing­ful trans­par­ency.”

The tech­no­logy presents nu­mer­ous op­por­tun­it­ies to make cus­tom­er ser­vice seam­less, im­prove iden­ti­fic­a­tion, and cre­ate op­por­tun­it­ies for in­nov­a­tion. For ex­ample, The New York Times re­ports face-read­ing soft­ware could de­tect if a stu­dent was con­fused and provide them with ex­tra tu­tor­ing.

But as fa­cial data is col­lec­ted and be­comes read­ily avail­able, there is a de­fi­ciency of laws to pro­tect a user’s con­trol over the use and dis­tri­bu­tion of this in­form­a­tion.

“Di­git­al im­ages are in­creas­ingly avail­able, and the im­port­ance of se­cur­ing fa­ce­prints and en­sur­ing con­sumers’ ap­pro­pri­ate con­trol over their data is clear,” said Lawrence Strick­ling, as­sist­ant sec­ret­ary for com­mu­nic­a­tions and in­form­a­tion for the Com­merce De­part­g­ment and NTIA’s ad­min­is­trat­or.

Stake­hold­ers will con­vene for the first meet­ing on Feb. 6, with ad­di­tion­al meet­ings to be sched­uled throughout the spring and sum­mer.

The Com­merce De­part­ment agency began the pri­vacy multistake­hold­er pro­cess in 2012 as part of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ef­fort to im­ple­ment a Con­sumer Pri­vacy Bill of Rights. Its first top­ic—pri­vacy no­ti­fic­a­tions on mo­bile devices—took more than a year to com­plete.

What We're Following See More »
CANNOT “IN GOOD CONSCIENCE” VOTE FOR BILL
McCain Won’t Support Graham-Cassidy Bill
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

In a statement Friday, Sen. John McCain wrote, "I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will effect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it. Without a full CBO score, which won't be available by the end of the month, we won't have reliable answers to any of those questions." His "no" vote makes it much less likely Republicans will repeal and replace Obamacare by Sept. 30.

Source:
NEW DIRECTIVES ISSUED
DeVos Officially Replaces Obama-era Sexual Assault Guidelines
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

As anticipated, the Department of Education today withdrew the controversial Obama-era "Dear Colleague" letter on campus sexual assault, replacing it with new interim guidance. Most notably, the new guidance permits colleges to use a “clear and convincing” standard of evidence, rather than the preponderance of evidence standard that the 2011 letter seemed to mandate. "The new guidance also states that colleges may facilitate informal resolutions, including mediation, if all parties agree to participate in that process."

Source:
EXPECTED TO TAKE EFFECT BY SUNDAY
Country-Specific Rules to Replace Travel Ban
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The Trump administration will unveil more tailored restrictions on travelers from certain countries as a replacement to the controversial travel ban, according to a senior administration official. The new restrictions will vary by country. They could include a ban on travel to the United States, or new restrictions on obtaining a visa for citizens of particular countries." They are expected to be unveiled by Sunday.

Source:
MORE TRANSPARENCY THAN FEC REQUIRES
Facebook Enhances Disclosure for Political Ads
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS

In a live-streamed address from Silicon Valley, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced a nine-point plan that the tech giant is rolling out over coming months to respond to "efforts by nation-states and private actors to use the social media platform to influence U.S. elections." Most importantly, the company will force all advertisers to disclose what ads they're running to all audiences. “When someone buys political ads on TV or other media, they’re required by law to disclose who paid for them,” Zuckerberg said. “But you still don’t know if you’re seeing the same messages as everyone else. So we’re going to bring Facebook to an even higher standard of transparency. Not only will you have to disclose which page paid for an ad, but we will also make it so you can visit an advertiser’s page and see the ads they’re currently running to any audience on Facebook.”

Source:
TRUMP ADMIN CRACKING DOWN ON LEAKS
Mandatory Training EPA Employees on Leaking
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

As "part of a broader Trump administration order for anti-leaks training at all executive branch agencies," Environmental Protection Agency employees "are attending mandatory training sessions this week to reinforce their compliance with laws and rules against leaking classified or sensitive government information ... Relatively few EPA employees deal with classified files, but the new training also reinforces requirements to keep 'Controlled Unclassified Information' from unauthorized disclosure."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login