America’s Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a new report urging the federal government to investigate privacy issues relating to the use of facial recognition technology. Announced by Senator Al Franken, who has long expressed concern about this technology, the report notes in a synopsis that “the current privacy framework in commercial settings warrants reconsideration.”
In a statement, Senator Franken pointed to the “tremendous growth in the use of facial recognition technologies,” and the resulting “profound implications for consumer privacy.” He said that the GAO report “raises serious concerns about how companies are collecting, using, and storing our most sensitive personal information,” and suggested that “it’s important that, at the very least, the tech industry adopts strong, industry-wide standards for facial recognition technology.”
While the US government has so far shown a light touch at best when it comes to regulation, other interests have pursued more serious efforts. For example, a cross-industry group was recently convened to find voluntary standards for businesses in their use of facial recognition technology, but it suffered a serious credibility crisis when privacy rights advocates walked out in protest over the business interests’ refusal to agree to seek consumer consent before employing such technologies. (The group continues to negotiate without the privacy rights advocates.)
Ultimately it will be in everyone’s interest to establish regulations for the industry. As a recent class action lawsuit over Facebook’s use of facial recognition have demonstrated, the legalities surrounding such technology could lead to costly consequences, not to mention upset citizens.
July 31, 2015 – by Alex Perala