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FTC: Hey Businesses, Faces Aren't Just Data

Maybe it sounds a little science-fiction-y, but even the government is ready to talk about risks of facial recognition technology.

Maybe it sounds a little science-fiction-y, but even the government is ready to talk about facial recognition technology, the risks it poses and etiquette (but not laws) surrounding it.

The Federal Trade Commission has provided guidelines for businesses using facial recognition, and they're both pretty sensible and a wake-up call to people who haven't taken into account what all of that technology could really be capable of.

From Talking Points Memo:

Some of the guidelines the FTC offers seem like no-brainers: Don’t put facial recognition technology “in sensitive areas, such as bathrooms, locker rooms, health care facilities, or places where children congregate,” for example.

But beyond that, the FTC wants companies using facial recognition to build their apps and services with “privacy by design,” securing any biometric information captured of customers/users from unauthorized “scraping” by third parties.


That "scraping" is the kind of thing that people really hate—when their face and information end up in a place and they can't exactly figure out how it got there.

Even when it's used in ways you might expect, people are pretty uncomfortable with it—which is why Facebook was asked to stop using it in the EU recently. The Electronic Privacy Information Center would love for the FTC to enact a general moratorium on facial recognition technology.

Businesses using the technology would be wise to check out the FTC guidelines and go a couple of steps above and beyond them, firstly because, come on, don't be creepy, but secondly because it's better than risking a fiasco that requires an apology/explanation to the residents of San Francisco.

Photo via Flickr (cc) user gnuckx.

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