IT News from: United States privacy groups pull out of government face recognition talks

Some facial recognition companies like RedPepper are putting facial recognition technology in stores and restaurants, offering you deals when you walk in.

Facial recognition is used to allocate an anonymised identifier to an individual so that when this identifier is seen later, the system can calculate a time between different locations.

They said that “people deserve more protection that they are likely to get in this forum”. The goal was to produce a voluntary code of conduct for companies using facial recognition in their business, overseen by the Department of Commerce. What is the more disturbing item here for those advocates is the fact that any regulation at this point would nearly be too late.

Industry representatives at the talks have been pushing to limit consumer control over the facial recognition data collected, the groups said in a letter to be released Tuesday.

But the groups’ letter said the companies involved had refused to accept they needed prior permission from people being identified by the technology. Could companies agree to opt-in consent there? Again, no companies would commit, according to several attendees, the report added. Privacy advocates blame the industry for the impasse. “In the 16 months that the process has dragged on there has been no meaningful progress and it has become clear that we will be unable to reach consensus on fundamental issues such as consumer consent to be subject to facial recognition”.

Others go even further, blaming the Obama administration’s ties with Silicon Valley.

Members of the administration disputed that description.

But, he agreed, there are few federal standards for how companies can collect information about consumers right now.

And there had been small prospect that the talks would have produced “adequate protections” for citizens.

“We’re trying to work on facial recognition without legislation”, Morris said.

“We’re getting to a point when we can start putting pen to paper”, he said.

The nine groups withdrawing from the talks represent all the major privacy and consumer groups that were taking part. “That means that one out of every eight Americans now has a legal right to biometric privacy”, he wrote.

Since mid-2012, the NTIA has convened for a series of negotiations related to technology and privacy, with the first meetings focused on mobile application privacy.

At press time, the groups pulling out, in addition to CDD and the Center on Privacy and Technology, were the American Civil Liberties Union, Common Sense Media, Center for Democracy & Technology, Consumer Federation of America, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Consumer Action.

But the meetings will continue, the agency said. “The process is the strongest when all interested parties participate and are willing to engage on all issues”.

Industry representatives also have committed to continuing with the process.

The NTIA is disappointed that some participants have withdrawn from the talks, the agency said. Facebook has been using it in multiple aspects of its service, and most recently launched a feature dubbed Moments which scans a user’s camera roll for the all the photos featuring a friend’s face, then bundles them to share with that friend.


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