NTIA launches privacy multistakeholder process on use of facial recognition
04 December 2013 12:21 GMT

NTIA launches privacy multistakeholder process on use of facial recognition

NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration) has launched a new privacy multistakeholder process on the commercial use of facial recognition technology.

The Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator, Lawrence E. Strickling, stated that, as companies are beginning to use facial recognition for a wide range of commercial applications, the technology poses distinct consumer privacy challenges. He said “businesses are incorporating facial recognition capabilities into photo management software, in-store camera systems, online services, game consoles, and mobile devices. Facial recognition technology has the potential to improve services for consumers, support innovation by businesses, and affect identification and authentication online and offline. Digital images are increasingly available, and the importance of securing faceprints and ensuring consumers’ appropriate control over their data is clear.  For this new multistakeholder process, discussions could include an examination of the privacy risks associated with the use of photo databases in stores and other commercial settings and face prints as a unique biometric identifier.”

The privacy multistakeholder process is an NTIA-led effort to implement the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, part of the Obama Administration’s blueprint for improving consumers’ privacy protections in the information age and promoting the continued growth of the digital economy.  The Administration has also called on Congress to enact baseline consumer privacy legislation.

Over the past year, NTIA convened a group of stakeholders – including companies, privacy advocates, consumer groups, application developers, and academics – to develop a code of conduct to improve privacy notices on mobile devices.

NTIA will convene the first meeting on exploring privacy safeguards for the use of facial recognition technology in the commercial context in February.