Bill Introduced To Regulate Potential MVPD Face-Recognition Technologies

Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) has introduced a bill requiring facilities-based video programming distributors--cable, satellite, telco video--to inform viewers if they decide to use technologies that can identify who is in the room while a program is airing, as well as give them the option of a service that doesn't monitor them. That is according to a copy of the bill.

Intel has reportedly worked with some cable ops on potentially developing the technology, which would help deliver targeted ads.

Called the We Are Watching You Act of 2013, the bill would prevent a video services operator from collecting ambient visual or auditory information from the "vicinity" of a display device unless it displays a "we are watching you" message continuously, in a readable font, as part of the video stream while the information is being collected and tells consumers what information is being collected and how it will be used.

The description will have to be part of the contract when a sub agrees to use the video service.

The provider will also be required to offer a service that does not involve collection of information but is identical in all other respects.

The Federal Trade Commission will be authorized to enforce the requirements. The FTC last fall issued guidelines for facial recognition software that could be used to determine gender or age for targeted ads. The bill would essentially turn those guidelines into mandates.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.