BiometricsGrowing pressure to investigate facial recognition technology

Published 23 February 2012

Concerned with the growing ubiquity of facial recognition technology, earlier this month, lawmakers sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission urging the agency to “look further” into the technology

Concerned with the growing ubiquity of facial recognition technology, earlier this month, lawmakers sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) urging the agency to “look further” into the technology.

“Currently, there are a number of companies that have implemented both facial recognition and facial detection technologies for the stated purpose of enhancing the user experience,” the House lawmakers wrote in their letter. “We are deeply concerned about how the use of these technologies impact the level of protection for consumer’s [sic] personal information.”

Representative Joe Barton (R- Texas) was joined by six others including Representatives Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), Jackie Speier (D-California) and Michael Burress (R-Texas), all members of the Congressional Privacy Caucus, in signing the letter.

In their letter, the representatives noted the FTC’s past efforts to explore facial recognition technology including an 8 December, 2011 forum and a request for public comment, but “[urged] the FTC to look further into how these technologies are used.”

The letter did not specifically name any particular software or platforms, but in recent months several law enforcement agencies and major technology companies like Google and Facebook have unveiled features and software that use facial recognition.

The request comes after Senator Jay Rockefeller’s (D – West Virginia) letter, sent in October 2011, requesting the FTC to examine facial recognition technology.

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