NetChoice Praises NTIA Facial Recognition Effort

NetChoice, which represents Web companies and advocates for online commerce, was pleased with the National Telecommunications & Information Administration's facial recognition meeting Tuesday (July 28).

The meeting's main goal was to vet two proposed privacy best practices for facial recognition, both by stakeholders, and one of the two proposed by NetChoice.

“Today was extremely productive as a diverse group of stakeholders made clear steps toward establishing facial recognition technology policies and regulations that foster transparency, control and closure," said Carl Szabo, policy counsel for NetChoice. "I think we all agree that companies using facial recognition technologies should provide people with meaningful control when their facial image data is shared with others who might not otherwise have access to or are authorized to have access to that data," he said. "We continue to encourage all interested parties to participate in this inclusive and cooperative process."

The last was a reference to the fact that last month, a number of consumer groups and privacy advocates decided to pull out of the process—which was launched in 2014—after they concluded the process would not ultimately produce sufficiently strong privacy protections.

The groups are particularly concerned with what they see as an inability of the industry stakeholders to agree to any variation on an opt-in model, but also say their withdrawal should be taken as a signal to reevaluate the effectiveness of the multistakeholder process in general.

NetChoice suggests that there is a risk of overregulating the space.

Szabo said the group wants to make sure that "the wide range of everyday consumer uses of facial recognition remain free of unnecessary regulatory mandates like getting express written consent from friends and family before tagging them in personal photo albums.”

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.