CDD: Google, Facebook Decline to Present at Facial Recognition Meeting

Google and Facebook have declined to deliver facial recognition presentations at a National Telecommunications & Information Administration stakeholder meeting on the topic scheduled for Tuesday.

That is according to the Center for Digital Democracy, which had asked for the presentations, pointing to those companies' expertise and the need for stakeholders to better understand the technology as they try to come up with voluntary privacy guidelines to flesh out the Obama Administration's privacy Bill of Rights framework.

Neither Google nor Facebook were under any obligation to present or participate, though they are expected to have a representative at the meeting.

CDD Executive Director Jeff Chester said that an NTIA official had given him the word that the companies would not be presenting at the meeting in Washington, the second in a series of meetings to hash out issues and come up with voluntary standards.

NTIA would not confirm that conversation, but a source on background suggested that whether or not the companies participated was a stakeholder issue. NTIA has long said it is a facilitator for sharing info and participation in the voluntary process, rather than there to enforce any approach, and typically would not be commenting on how those stakeholders choose to participate, or not.

At press time, neither Google nor Facebook had responded to a request for comment. The topic of "facial recognition" got no hits in a search of the Facebook online news room, but Facebook's AI Group earlier this month published a paper on a DeepFace facial recognition system it says is close to being able to "decode" and "detect" a face in a third of a second.

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.