FTC Issues Privacy Guidelines for Facial Recognition Technology
A new Federal Trade Commission report provides suggestions for how companies can use facial recognition technology, particularly in social networks while protecting users privacy.The Federal Trade Commission issued a report Oct. 23 that suggested best practices for companies using facial recognition technology, including a focus on how it should be used responsibly by social networking sites. According to the FTC, facial recognition technologies are being used in a number of ways, from online social networks to mobile applications. The technology has a number of uses. Facebook, for example, has used facial recognition technology as part of its Tag Suggest feature, which the company has agreed to scrap in Europe in the name of complying with government regulations. The feature was taken offline for users everywhere months ago so that it could be made more efficient. Facebook did not offer any specific comments on the FTC report. In the report, however, the FTC noted that the facial recognition application that potentially raises the most privacy concerns is identifying anonymous individuals in images. It also particularly suggests controls on the use of this functionality by social networks. Social networks should provide users with a clear notice about how such features work and how the data will be used, the FTC recommends. They also should provide consumers with an easy way to opt out of having their biometric data collected and use for facial recognition as well as the ability to turn the feature off at any time and have any biometric data previously collected from their photos deleted forever, the FTC said.
"There are at least two scenarios in which social networks should obtain consumers’ affirmative express consent before collecting or using biometric data from facial images," according to the report. "First, as with all companies, social networks should obtain a consumer’s affirmative express consent before using a consumer’s image or any biometric data derived from that image in a materially different manner than it represented when it collected the data. Second, the social network should not identify users to other users who are not their ‘friends’ on the site without first obtaining their affirmative express consent."