Apple, Facebook, and U.S. Government to Develop Facial Recognition Guidelines

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Whether you think facial recognition technology is cool or creepy, the use of computers and cameras to identify people by their “faceprint” is becoming increasingly widespread. Both Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) already use facial recognition software to allow users to tag individuals’ faces in photographs, while companies like Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) are exploring the use of the technology for security and advertising purposes, reports Bloomberg. Meanwhile, Apple recently patented a method to control a user’s access to a computer device through face detection and recognition techniques.

In order to protect consumers’ rights and develop a set of voluntary guidelines regarding the use of facial recognition technology, various industry and privacy advocates will be meeting with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration in February. According to the NTIA’s public notice, the stakeholders will “discuss, draft, and revise a code of conduct that sets forth privacy practices for facial recognition technology” by June 2014.

While industry advocates like the National Retail Federation would prefer not to have any regulations or laws that could stifle a burgeoning technology, privacy advocates like the American Civil Liberties Union are concerned that this increasingly sophisticated technology could subject consumers to unwanted surveillance and tracking. “We are very skeptical about stomping on technology in the cradle,” National Retail Federation Senior Vice President Mallory Duncan told Bloomberg. “It’s not a good idea to develop codes or laws that freeze technology before you have the ability of determining what it’s capable of achieving.”