One of the things we like most about putting together this newsletter is finding out about technological developments and how new technologies are being used. For example, in preparing this month's edition, we learned about a company that has developed facial recognition technology to help people with autism read the emotions of others.

Facial detection and recognition are on their way to becoming huge. Biometric technology has the potential to help physicians assess heart patients and to help law enforcement find missing children--among many other uses for the greater good. And the potential uses of facial recognition for marketers, app developers and entrepreneurs abound.

When it comes to privacy and data protection, all this potential makes facial recognition ripe for scrutiny.

Yesterday, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission hosted a forum to explore the commercial use of facial recognition and its potential impact on consumer privacy. The forum started with a scene from the 2002 film Minority Report, which imagines the use of highly advanced facial recognition technology in the year 2054. As FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz suggested in his opening remarks, although facial recognition technology has not matured to the degree depicted in the film, "the technology is not that far off."

As with many other new developments that have potential privacy implications, there is policy to be developed in this area. An FTC tweet from the forum quoted George Washington University Law School Prof. Daniel Solove as saying that U.S. privacy law is "not even close" to being ready for facial recognition.

That is why now is the time, said Leibowitz, "to look at and talk honestly about the future of facial recognition technology--and to work together to shape it into one that benefits consumers and the market while respecting all of our right to privacy and control over our own personal story."


J. Trevor Hughes, CIPP
President & CEO, IAPP


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