New York City councillor to propose facial recognition disclosure rules for businesses

A New York City councillor is planning to introduce legislation which would require businesses using facial recognition technology to disclose that fact, along with details about how they use it, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The legislation would compel companies using the technology to post a notice saying so at the store front or online, as well as to disclose what information they collect and share, and how long it is stored for. Companies would also need to draft a policy to govern their use of facial recognition.

Councillor Ritchie Torres, a Democrat from the Bronx who leads the Committee on Oversight and Investigations, says that while the technology is often used as a security tool, it could easily be repurposed for profit. He also said that there are currently no laws compelling disclosure of facial recognition use currently in force in New York City. He was motivated to draft the legislation after reading about the technology’s deployment at Madison Square Garden.

Carl Szabo, Vice President of the e-commerce trade association NetChoice, says Texas and Illinois state laws requiring consent from customers for businesses to use facial recognition are too stringent, but that the increased transparency driven by Torres’ bill could ease consumer concerns about the technology.

New York Civil Liberties Union Associate Legal Director Chris Dunn lauded the proposal as a way to inform people of a change they might otherwise be unaware of.

“Unlike a lot of technology, including initially video systems, you could tell if something got installed anew,” says Dunn. “We’re talking about software that’s already existing in infrastructure, which makes the disclosure of facial-recognition technology important.”

The Metropolitan Transit Authority of New York recently began testing facial recognition systems that can identify drivers at bridges and tunnels.

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