Stakeholders Vet Facial Recognition Guidelines

Stakeholders continue to try and hash out voluntary codes of conduct for the use of facial recognition software.

The latest effort came Monday in a follow-up meeting at the Commerce Department, where the National Telecommunications & Information Association's John Verdi moderated a wide-ranging discussion about language on issues including data retention/disposal, security and deletion.

Center For Digital Democracy executive director Jeff Chester pushed for more specific language on how data was being used as well as for tackling the issue of the right to opt out. He said discussing language about retention and security of facial recognition data was "incredibly premature" and that the first order of businesses should be to establish consumer rights, informed by good data on how facial recognition was being, and could be, employed.

He said it was tough talking about the structure of individual rights without first establishing what those rights were. He said that given how technology involves, it will become even more invasive of individual rights and freedoms and that meaningful individual consent was central.

Chester pressed Verdi about where the White House or Commerce was on the proposed privacy bill of rights and the impact of big data on those rights. He said the voluntary guideline process depends on the White House's final recommendations on that bill of rights.

Verdi suggested Commerce was still vetting comments on a big data report, which came in in August, but would not comment further.

On the issue of data retention, Chester said the language should be specific and granular because without specificity, the same potential abuses in the current facial recognition regime would still be allowable. A representative from Facebook said they were concerned that too much "granularity" in that language would make it over-prescriptive.

Verdi said the goal of the meeting was not to come up with language that was set in stone, which was good because the early part of the discussion was about whether or not to delete the first sentence of the first draft on data retention, a decision that itself was eventually tabled for another time.

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.