Rockefeller Seeks FTC Report on Face Recognition and Privacy

Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) has called on the Federal Trade Commission to report back to Congress on the use of facial recognition and its impact on internet privacy, specifically what he said was the prospect of less of that privacy.

The FTC already recognizes there are issues with the technology and is already planning on holding a hearing in December on it. Rockefeller has simply asked that it take the next step and provide a preliminary report, no later than Feb.  8, 2012, that will include possible legislative approaches to protecting consumer privacy.

In a letter to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz Wednesday, Rockefeller cited facial recognition experiments by Facebook, Google and Apple, which he said raise serious privacy concerns. He also cited reports of an ad display at the Venetian Resort in Vegas that reads faces and tailors the ad to the sex and age of the person standing in front of it.

An FTC spokesperson confirmed it had received the letter.  "Following the workshop, we will report back to Chairman Rockefeller and his committee on our conclusions and any recommendations," said the spokesperson.

Rockefeller has been a leading voice for online privacy legislation.

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.