The Federal Trade Commission announced this week that it will host a workshop to explore potential privacy and security implications raised by the increasing use of facial recognition technology.  The discussion will take place on December 8, 2011 in Washington, DC.

According to the FTC, the workshop, which is free and open to the public, may focus on topics including:

  • What are the current and future uses of facial recognition technology?
  • How can consumers benefit from the technology?
  • What are the privacy and security concerns surrounding the adoption of the technology; for example, have consumers consented to the collection and use of their images?
  • Are there special considerations for the use of this technology on or by children and teens?
  • What legal protections currently exist for consumers regarding the use of the technology, both in the United States and internationally?
  • What consumer protections should be provided?

Facial recognition technologies are being used more pervasively as a law enforcement and security tool, and technology companies increasingly are including facial recognition capabilities as a software feature to enhance applications and services.  Recent articles also have highlighted potential uses of facial recognition technology to target advertisements toward particular demographics—for example, age appropriate shoes or a particular restaurant recommendation

Concerns expressed by consumer groups and resulting congressional attention likely have prompted the FTC to focus on the expanding uses of this technology.  Check back for Inside Privacy’s report on the workshop when it takes place.