A government-led effort to develop commercial guidelines for face-recognition technology is moving forward, and it has privacy advocates red in the face.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an agency within the U.S. Commerce Department, held a meeting in Washington Tuesday to consider a set of “best practices” for collecting and storing facial data and to discuss how face-recognition technology might apply to the Obama administration’s so-called Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights publicized in 2012. The meeting is part of an ongoing process being billed as a “multistakeholder” effort to develop an enforceable code of conduct for emerging biometric technologies, but privacy groups say their warnings about potential privacy abuses are not being heard. Instead, they say the process has been hijacked by technology industry interests intent on harnessing sensitive private data for monetary gain.
“Lobbyists craft purposefully vague proposals without any real safeguards for biometric data,” Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, wrote in a blog post Tuesday. “Americans face new privacy threats from the use of their facial and other biometric information, as personal details of our physical selves are captured, analyzed and used for commercial purposes.”