Facebook Among Companies, Groups Aiding Department Of Commerce On Voluntary Facial-Recognition Code

By David Cohen 

FacialRecognition650The use of facial-recognition technology is a contentious one, both on Facebook and overall, and the social network is one of several companies that will assist the Department of Commerce in crafting a voluntary code for its use.

Bloomberg reported that the Department of Commerce will begin meeting with companies and privacy advocates in February, with the aim of drafting a voluntary code of conduct on the use of facial-recognition technology by June.

Other participating companies cited by Bloomberg include retail giant Walmart and aerospace technology company Lockheed Martin.

Facebook’s use of facial-recognition technology, mainly for the purposes of photo tagging, has come under constant scrutiny, particularly in Europe, where the social network deleted all related data in February.

Facebook Policy Manager Rob Sherman said in an email to Bloomberg:

(The discussions with the Department of Commerce) can provide meaningful privacy protections without running the risk of legislation that becomes outdated as technology evolves and limits people’s ability to use online services.

And National Retail Federation Senior Vice President Mallory Duncan told Bloomberg:

We are very skeptical about stomping on technology in the cradle. It’s not a good idea to develop codes or laws that freeze technology before you have the ability of determining what it’s capable of achieving.

On the other side of the argument, American Civil Liberties Union Lawyer Christopher Calabrese told Bloomberg:

One of the most serious concerns about facial recognition is that it allows secret surveillance at a distance. Suddenly, you’re really not anonymous in public anymore.

Center for Digital Democracy Executive Director Jeff Chester added:

This is all about giving a digital stamp of approval to the industry’s ever-growing collection of U.S. consumer data.

And International Biometrics and Identification Association Co-Founder Joseph Atick said:

This is a perfect storm. There is reason for alarm.

Readers: What suggestions would you like to see in the voluntary code of conduct the Department of Commerce and other parties will soon begin working on?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.