Facial Recognition Privacy Act Aims to Protect Your ID


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Two U.S. senators want to limit what businesses can do with facial recognition data.

Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) this week introduced the Commercial Facial Recognition Privacy Act, aimed at commercial users of FR technology.

Your face is the key to your personal identity: It distinguishes you from every Tom, Dick, and Harry; it unlocks your smartphone, and gains entry to your bank account.

It also allows law enforcement to quickly and accurately identify a wanted person in a crowd, or match a simple image with a database of known criminals.

Which, understandably, has conjured a sort of Orwellian “Big Brother” impression across the country.

“Consumers are increasingly concerned about how their data is being collected and used, including data collected through facial recognition technology,” Blunt said in a statement. “That’s why we need guardrails to ensure that, as this technology continues to develop, it is implemented responsibly.”

If passed, the bill would require companies to notify customers when FR technology is in use. (I imagine this will manifest in something similar to existing “CCTV in operation” signage.)

It also restricts the redistribution or dissemination of data to third-parties without “express consent from the end user.”

“This bill increases transparency and consumer choice by requiring individuals to give informed consent before commercial entities can collect and share data gathered through FR,” Blunt said.

All providers would have to meet data security, minimization, and retention standards as determined by the Federal Trade Commission and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Facial recognition is not new: It has been a staple of security and surveillance applications for decades.

But while its use in commercial applications (like Taylor Swift concerts or the White House) grows, many consumers remain unaware that the “Big Brother”-esque technology is often hidden in plain sight.

“Our bill makes sure that people are given the information and—more importantly—the control over how their data is shared with companies using facial recognition technology,” Schatz explained.

“This legislation,” Blunt added, “is an important step toward protecting privacy and empowering consumers, and I encourage all of my colleagues to support it.”

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