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ACLU wants legislation to enforce facial recognition privacy measures


While the American Civil Liberties Union has endorsed the use of a voluntary code of conduct for companies to utilize in order to maintain privacy in the face of emerging facial recognition technologies, the lobby group would rather legislation be passed which enforces privacy measures.

“While voluntary codes of conduct represent an important step in protecting biometric information from exploitation and misuse, it is impossible to protect against the negative effects of this powerful technology fully without government intervention and statutorily created legal protections,” the ACLU said in a statement submitted to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The ACLU had been cooperating with the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to develop a voluntary code of conduct that specifies how the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights applies to facial recognition technology in a commercial environment. The civil liberties lobby group made the comment in its submission. Other stakeholder groups were also invited to submit proposed principles that could be incorporated into a voluntary code of conduct.

Focusing on individual control, other proposed principles that might be incorporated in a future code include:

  • Giving consumers appropriate choices about when facial recognition technology and related data is used. (submitted by ACT and NetChoice)
  • Allowing businesses to use facial recognition on their property so long as consumers are made aware of its use. (submitted by TechFreedom)
  • Ensuring that an entity receives informed, written consent from an individual before using a facial recognition system or faceprint in a manner not covered by existing consent. When an individual consents to the use of a facial recognition system for one purpose, an entity may seek consent from that individual for its use for a secondary purpose. However, the entity may not compel the individual to give that consent. Consent may be withdrawn by the individual at any time. An entity may not use a face recognition system to determine an individual’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or age. (submitted by ACLU)
  • A faceprint or any information derived from the operation of a face recognition system may not be sold or shared except with the informed, written consent of the individual whose information is being sold or shared. (submitted by ACLU)
  • A company must make it convenient and accessible for an individual to withdraw use of their facial recognition data, such as through a prominent link that removes consent. (submitted by ACLU

For a full listing of proposed principles, download the NTIA report.

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