CDD, ACLU Troubled By Facial Recognition Guidelines

Some public advocacy groups that are concerned about the privacy implications of facial recognition software are equally concerned about a discussion draft of proposed self-regulations being offered up by the International Biometrics Industry Association.

The suggested "best practices" document was posted on the National Telecommunications & Information Administration Web site in advance of a June 24 meeting on facial recognition, part of an ongoing effort to put some self-regulatory muscle behind the Obama Administrations privacy "bill of rights."

"[T]his is just the latest example of where the NTIA process is being run by industry lobbyists who really don’t want to see consumer privacy protected," said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. Chester has been closely monitoring the self-reg process and has so far not liked what he sees on either this front or an earlier effort on mobile apps.

Among the passages in the draft that have raised eyebrows among his cohorts, says Chester, include that it is impractical to do opt-in consent when entering buildings, that "surveillance is already a part of our daily life," and that "anonymity and privacy are not synonymous terms. The former is forfeited if one chooses to live in society.”

Chester calls those and other passages Orwellian, indecipherable or inaccurate.

“The biometrics industry seems to believe that they always have the right to know who you are,” Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel for the ACLU, told B&C/MultiChannel News. “The reality is that privacy and anonymity have been woven into the fabric of America since its founding.  No technology or industry should be allowed to erode our core values.”

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.