FTC offers best practices recommendations for facial recognition technologies

Shane McGlaun - Oct 23, 2012
FTC offers best practices recommendations for facial recognition technologies

The FTC has offered recommendations on best practices for companies that are using facial recognition technologies. The recommendations are offered in a new staff report titled “Facing Facts: Best-kept practices for, and Uses of Facial Recognition Technologies.” The report is intended to help companies that use facial recognition to protect consumers’ privacy as they use the technology to create products and services.

According to the FTC, facial recognition tech has been adopted for variety of uses including online social networks to mobile apps and digital signs. The technology is able to do things such as determine an individual’s age range and gender to deliver targeted ads. The technology is also able to assess a viewers emotions to see if they are engaged in a video or a game.

Law enforcement also uses facial recognition technology to match faces and identify anonymous individuals in photographs or videos. The FTC recommends that companies that are using facial recognition technology design services with consumer privacy in mind. The FTC also recommends that companies develop security precautions for the information collected and develop methods for determining what information should be kept and what information should be disposed of.

The report also recommends that companies consider the sensitivity of information when developing products and services that use facial recognition. The report says, for example, that digital signs that use facial recognition technology should not be used in places where children congregate. The report also calls on companies using facial recognition technology to make it clear when the technology is being used and data about users is being collected.

Two specific scenarios are called out by the FTC that state when companies should get a consumer’s affirmative consent before collecting or using data from facial images. Those situations include:

First, they should obtain consent before using consumers’ images or any biometric data in a different way than they represented when they collected the data. Second, companies should not use facial recognition to identify anonymous images of a consumer to someone who could not otherwise identify him or her, without obtaining the consumer’s affirmative consent first.

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