“It’s really curtailing innovation,” Carl Szabo, general counsel for NetChoice, an internet trade group that represents companies like Facebook, Google, and Yahoo, told BuzzFeed News. ”It’s making Illinois a technology desert.”
Carl Szabo, a senior policy counsel at NetChoice, an association for online companies, says that because “the legislative process cannot move at the speed of technology,” the industry has recently published privacy guidelines for the use facial recognition. They recommend businesses: Be transparent about using the technology; ensure the data are kept secure; and give consumers some control over how that information is used.
“Today proves that stakeholders from different worlds with diverse priorities can come together to develop industry guidelines that promote innovation and protect personal privacy,” said Carl Szabo, senior policy counsel for NetChoice. “From customer service to finding lost dogs, to photo organizing, developers of facial recognition applications will now have ‘rules of the road’ as they develop the latest and greatest tech products and applications. This is by no means the end of facial recognition guidelines but the NTIA has led a successful effort that has built a strong foundation that will enable U.S. consumers to reap the benefits of a valuable technology that will make life more convenient and secure.”
NetChoice’s Carl Szabo, a member of the industry working group, told MT that “nobody is trying to hide the ball.” He added that, “those of us who believe that having guidelines is better than having nothing have been continuing to work.”
Carl Szabo, policy counsel for industry group NetChoice, who is part of the working group developing the draft told The Hill: “There has been a bunch of really great work done by groups to help their members navigate the universe of facial recognition technology. What we’re trying to do is take their good work and the work of everyone who has contributed so far and kind of expand it a little bit further to address public-facing uses of facial recognition technology.”
“There has been a bunch of really great work done by groups to help their members navigate the universe of facial recognition technology,” said Carl Szabo, policy counsel for industry group NetChoice, who is part of the smaller working group developing the draft.
“What we’re trying to do is take their good work and the work of everyone who has contributed so far and kind of expand it a little bit further to address public-facing uses of facial recognition technology.”
“When facial recognition technology is being used, you need to tell people that it’s happening,” Szabo said.
“The idea is, if I’m Macy’s, I can’t put the notice on the roof of the bathroom stall,” he said.
But he also said that, for fear of being overly prescriptive, the guidelines are unlikely to dictate exactly where businesses would be required to notify customers.
Businesses would also be advised to seek users’ consent before sharing information from their facial recognition databases, Szabo said.
The guidelines also suggest that businesses using facial recognition software to take “reasonable measures” to keep their customer data safe, without specifying how, Szabo said.
The guidelines would still need to be voluntarily adopted by businesses. Companies such as Facebook and Microsoft have joined industry groups at the talks.
“This is all a way of hiding the actual ball, which is consumer control,” he said. “And at the end of the day, that’s what the vast majority of Americans want: the ability to control their information.”
Szabo, defending the guidelines, said that, “by giving consumers and individuals notice and transparency, people can vote with their feet.”
“And if they see that a store is using this technology and they don’t like it, then go somewhere else,” he said.
Carl Szabo, policy counsel for the tech industry trade association NetChoice, said industry is working with the Obama Administration and other constituencies on a series of best practices with respect to biometric and facial recognition technologies. The effort is being directed by the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
Szabo told Bloomberg BNA Nov. 24 the group would release a series of recommendations early in 2016.
“We are working on draft best practices that are built on three pillars: transparency, control over sharing, and data security,” Szabo said.
Carl Szabo, a lawyer with NetChoice — a tech industry group that represents companies like Facebook, Google, and Yahoo — was also in attendance. He thinks consent might well be a non-starter for consumers. From the industry’s perspective, requiring permission at every step of the process — from the gathering of facial images online to the use of camera systems — would prove too cumbersome.
“We don’t know if consumers want a pop-up notice every time they upload a photograph to a service, or if consumers want to sign a form every time they enter a store,” he told VICE News.
Szabo also suspects that privacy advocates are gunning for an outright ban on facial recognition technology. “Some people may want to make this technology illegal before it has a chance to grow,” he said. Though he acknowledged that balancing privacy and progress is a challenge, he expressed confidence that the tech industry is committed to giving consumers “meaningful control” over their faceprints.
“We recognize the creepy, but we don’t want to stifle innovation,” he remarked. “If we cross that line from cool to creepy, people will stop using that service.”
Szabo and the companies he represents predict that privacy concerns will fade as consumers begin to understand the benefits of the new technology. “Imagine you walk into a Nordstroms, a camera scans your face, recognizes you, and knows what shirt you bought on your last visit,” he said. “Then, the salesperson can recommend a matching tie — that’s just good customer service.”