corporation, face, government, privacy, public

US: Face recognition code of conduct confab loses privacy advocates

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has convened a privacy multistakeholder process regarding the commercial use of facial recognition technology. On December 3, 2013, the NTIA announced that the goal of the second multistakeholder process is to develop a voluntary, enforceable code of conduct that specifies how the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights applies to facial recognition technology in the commercial context.

Privacy Advocates Walk Out in Protest Over U.S. Facial-Recognition Code of Conduct (The Intercept)

“At a base minimum, people should be able to walk down a public street without fear that companies they’ve never heard of are tracking their every movement — and identifying them by name – using facial recognition technology,” the privacy advocates wrote in a joint statement.

The quoted article is full of links to NTIA online resources.

An “open letter” of resignation on the part of the named privacy advocates lists their concerns here.
Concluding paragraph:

We hope that our withdrawal signals the need to reevaluate the effectiveness of multistakeholder processes in developing effective rules of the road that protect consumer privacy – and that companies will support and implement.

Ultimately, of course, these are political questions rather than technological ones, but the focus on one type of technology (facial recognition) is a little difficult to understand. If it’s wrong for a private corporation to track an unsuspecting individual’s every movement, identifying them by name, why single out facial recognition (the means) rather than the tracking (the end)?

The privacy advocates, however, have a point in their favor. The effectiveness of confabs of privacy advocates, sub-cabinet-level administrators, and corporate executives in defining a society’s scope for privacy in public should be questioned.

Also mentioned in the article is the fact that the states of Texas and Illinois have passed laws limiting the use of facial recognition technology to identify individuals in public without their affirmative consent.

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