Privacy campaigners have boycotted talks aimed at creating a code of conduct for companies keen to use facial-recognition technology.
The team of nine advocacy groups—including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and the Consumer Federation of America—walked out of talks en masse, bringing an end to more than a year of negotiations.
People deserved better protection than the talks had been likely to have produced, they said.
In an open letter, the groups said they had quit because of “fundamental” differences over use of the technology.
And there had been little prospect that the talks would have produced “adequate protections” for citizens.
A joint statement from the group read:
“We believe that people have a fundamental right to privacy. People have the right to control who gets their sensitive information, and how that information is shared. And there is no question that biometric information is extremely sensitive. You can change your password and your credit card number; you cannot change your fingerprints or the precise dimensions of your face. Through facial recognition, these immutable, physical facts can be used to identify you, remotely and in secret, without any recourse.”
The EFF said that millions of facial images had already been captured and processed by law enforcement agencies and private companies.
It said biometric data, such as fingerprints and facial features, was a different class of sensitive data because it could not be changed.
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Speaking to tech news site The Register, the NTIA said talks would continue to debate some of the “thorniest privacy topics concerning facial recognition” without the privacy groups.
It said it would “continue to facilitate meetings on this topic for those stakeholders who want to participate”.
“Through facial recognition, these immutable, physical facts can be used to identify you, remotely and in secret, without any recourse,” it said.