“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.