The American Federal Trade Commission has published a staff report entitled Best Practices for Common Uses of Facial Recognition Technologies [PDF]. The FTC has the jurisdiction under 15 USC § 45 (m) to make rules “respecting unfair or deceptive acts or practices” in commerce. As I’m sure you’ll know, facial recognition technology is fast advancing and has already found its way into software such as that used to organize photographs by the identity of the people in them (and, presumably, into the various operations of the authorities concerned with security — something left untouched by the report, of course).
The report makes a number of recommendations intended to operate as “best practices” or guidelines:
- “. . . companies using facial recognition technologies [should] design their services with privacy in mind . . . . maintain reasonable data security protections . . . . [and] consider putting protections in place that would prevent unauthorized scraping . . . .”
- “. . . companies should establish and maintain appropriate retention and disposal practices . . . .”
- “. . . companies should consider the sensitivity of information when developing their facial recognition products and services.”
- “. . . provide consumers with simplified choices and increase the transparency of their practices . . . . [e.g.] clear notice that technologies are in use . . . .”
- “. . . obtain consumers’ affirmative express consent before collecting or using biometric data from facial images” [in at least two scenarios: where use is materially different from that represented upon collection; where identifying anonymous image to someone who could not otherwise identify him or her]
There is a dissenting statement by one of the FTC Commissioners at the end of the report.
It strikes me that this is pretty mild stuff, given the potential for the near eradication of privacy, at least as currently understood, that facial recognition software presents. On the other hand, I’m unaware of any similar guidelines issuing from a Canadian government.
[hat tip: @randypicker]