Bipartisan Bill Tackles Facial Recognition Ethics

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Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mont., and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, introduced the Commercial Facial Recognition Privacy Act yesterday in a bipartisan effort to regulate facial recognition technology to protect consumers and their data.

Blunt and Schatz, both members of the Senate Commerce Committee, would prohibit commercial users of facial recognition technology from collecting and sharing data for tracking and identifying consumers without their consent.

“Our faces are our identities,” Schatz said. “They’re personal. So, the responsibility is on companies to ask people for their permission before they track and analyze their faces.”

The legislation would also require reviewers to test products before their implementation with the aim of weeding out issues of algorithmic bias or inaccuracies before their public releases.

“Consumers are increasingly concerned about how their data is being collected and used, including data collected through facial recognition technology,” Blunt said in a statement. “That’s why we need guardrails to ensure that, as this technology continues to develop, it is implemented responsibly.”

Microsoft and digital rights group the Center for Democracy and Technology have also endorsed the bill, and executives from both shared the sentiment that facial recognition is powerful and carries potential but that Congress should keep it tamed and ethical in its increasing role in commercial technology.

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