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FTC Holding Free Workshop on Facial Recognition Technology

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FTC by John Taylor on Flickr

FTC by John Taylor on Flickr

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that it’s hosting a free workshop in Washington, D.C. on December 8, 2011 to discuss facial recognition technology “and the privacy and security implications raised by its increasing use.”

Facebook’s recent adoption of facial recognition technology for photos on the site has seemed to spark a large amount of debate. Indeed, according to John P. Mello Jr. at ComputerWorld, “[t]he Electronic Privacy Information Center and three other advocacy groups filed a complaint asking the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to require Facebook to get affirmative opt-in consent from users before collecting and using their biometric data.”

But facial recognition technology is becoming increasingly popular both online and off. As noted by Michael Cooney at PCWorld, many other uses are also forthcoming. Cooney cites Microsoft, which will include such technology in Windows 8 as a means of accessing one’s computer, and Heathrow Airport in London, which will use facial recognition scanners to help combat illegal immigration.

In a released statement regarding the upcoming workshop, the FTC noted:

Facial recognition technology has been adopted in a variety of new contexts, ranging from online social networks to digital signs and mobile apps. Its increased use has raised a variety of privacy concerns. The FTC workshop will gather consumer protection organizations, academics, business and industry representatives, privacy professionals, and others to examine the use of facial recognition technology and related privacy and security concerns.

The workshop aims to consider the following issues:

  • What are the current and future uses of facial recognition technology?
  • How can consumers benefit from the technology?
  • What are the privacy and security concerns surrounding the adoption of the technology; for example, have consumers consented to the collection and use of their images?
  • Are there special considerations for the use of this technology on or by children and teens?
  • What legal protections currently exist for consumers regarding the use of the technology, both in the United States and internationally?
  • What consumer protections should be provided?

What do you think about facial recognition technology? Do you have privacy concerns?

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September 22nd, 2011 at 11:18 am