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Privacy Advocates Leave In Protest Over U.S. Facial Recognition Code of Conduct

Taco Cowboy writes: Nine privacy advocates involved in the Commerce Department process for developing a voluntary code of conduct for the use of facial recognition technology withdrew in protest over technology industry lobbyists’ overwhelming influence on the process. “At a base minimum, people should be able to walk down a public street without fear that companies they’ve never heard of are tracking their every movement — and identifying them by name — using facial recognition technology,” the privacy advocates wrote in a joint statement. “Unfortunately, we have been unable to obtain agreement even with that basic, specific premise.” The Commerce Department, through its National Telecommunications and Information Administration, brought together “representatives from technology companies, trade groups, consumer groups, academic institutions and other organizations” early last year “to kick off an effort to craft privacy safeguards for the commercial use of facial recognition technology.” The goal was “to develop a voluntary, enforceable code of conduct that specifies how the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights applies to facial recognition technology in the commercial context.” But after a dozen meetings, the most recent of which was last week, all nine privacy advocates who have participated in the entire process concluded that they were thoroughly outgunned. “This should be a wake-up call to Americans: Industry lobbyists are choking off Washington’s ability to protect consumer privacy,” Alvaro Bedoya, executive director of the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law, said in a statement. “People simply do not expect companies they’ve never heard of to secretly track them using this powerful technology. Despite all of this, industry associations have pushed for a world where companies can use facial recognition on you whenever they want — no matter what you say. This position is well outside the mainstream.”


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