Facial recognition tech: Privacy, best practices on Obama’s agenda

Facial Recognition Tech

The National Telecommunication & Information Administration (NTIA) on Tuesday announced that it plans to hold a variety of meetings next year, starting in early February, to discuss the use of facial recognition technology in modern devices. The NTIA will also look to develop a “voluntary, enforceable code of conduct that specifies how the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights applies” for the technology.

Facial recognition features are already officially available in various gadgets including Android devices, the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles, and unofficially on wearable devices including Google Glass. A patent describing the use of such technology for log in purposes on iPhone, iPad and Mac has been recently awarded to Apple.

However, the Obama administration worries about how the tech will affect privacy. “Facial recognition technology has the potential to improve services for consumers, support innovation for businesses, and affect identification and authentication online and offline,” the NTIA wrote in the press release. “However, the technology poses distinct consumer privacy challenges, including 1) securing sensitive biometric data; 2) providing transparency when facial recognition is implemented in retail stores or other public places, and 3) developing meaningful controls for consumers when the source material for facial recognition technology – digital images – is often widely available.” The NTIA will meet throughout next year to discuss facial technology, with the first meeting set for February 6, 2014.

Privacy has been an increasingly delicate subject in the tech world lately, especially in light of the various reports that detailed the U.S. government’s surveillance campaigns conducted via the NSA, but also various privacy-related activities and practices from certain tech companies.

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