How You Can Help Shape the Contours of Facial Recognition Self-Regulation

On February 25, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) held the second meeting of the Facial Recognition Multi-Stakeholder Process. The IAPP’s Angelique Carson, CIPP/US, reported on the first meeting here. The ultimate goal is to develop a code of conduct consistent with the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights that will be both voluntary and enforceable by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

A key outcome of the meeting is the determination that commercial entities will be covered—battles around government uses will take place elsewhere. So it is time for developers of commercial facial recognition technologies and the entities using them to “face it” and take action.

Ways To Shape the Code

The NTIA will be in fact-finding mode through the next meeting scheduled for March 25. After that, the process will turn to development of “straw man” codes of conduct.

  • Submit use cases for the stakeholders to discuss to This will help the privacy advocates, industry representatives, academics, technologists and regulators distinguish between scenarios well within consumer expectations and those that raise more novel or multifaceted privacy issues. The current list of use cases is fairly narrow, but additional examples are access to secure systems including smart phones, verification for distribution of prescription medicines and photo organization.
  • Share documentation or research that answers key questions posed during the meeting by advocates and policy makers, such as
    • Can facial recognition biometric algorithms be reverse-engineered? If so, what safeguards are being taken to guard against this?
    • What is the shelf life of a photo or unique biometric identifier, and is it different for teens?
    • Does the size of the database matter?
    • What other information is stored with biometric identifiers?
    • Should “one to one” matching be treated differently than “one to many”?
    • What role does crowd-sourced tagging or identification play?
    • Are there existing standards for other biometrics that could be instructive here; e.g., fingerprints, voiceprints, DNA, iris scans, signatures?
    • How are consumers informed about collection and use of facial recognition technologies today, and do they have control?
    • Are there different concerns for authentication and identification?
  • Participate in the upcoming meetings to ensure the future code realistically addresses the marketplace without unnecessarily restricting societal benefits. Advocates specifically called on key industry players to present their current practices at the next meeting. If organizations selling or using facial recognition technologies do not contribute, the code will likely negatively affect certain use cases. Conversely, if there is a reasonable explanation for a use case, it is likely to obtain appropriate treatment in the code.
  • Be aware of input from other policy makers who are substantially invested in the facial recognition dialogue. For instance, in addition to participating in the NTIA meetings, the FTC wrote a report in 2012 on facial recognition best practices. NIST has conducted several projects related to facial recognition, the latest of which is a challenge to create useful algorithms from photos or video taken with point and shoot cameras. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, has a longstanding interest in the issue, having recommended in April 2012 that the NTIA use the multi-stakeholder process to focus on facial recognition. He then held a hearing in his subcommittee in July 2012, and earlier this month he queried an application developer claiming to identify users from photos. Michelle Chibba, director of policy and special projects, Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Canada, was a vocal participant in the second meeting and presented in the first, including reference to a 2010 paper co-authored by Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian. This involvement by other policy makers and regulators provides deep context for the ongoing NTIA exercise.

Privacy advocates, industry representatives, academics, technologists and regulators will be giving input through June at meetings scheduled every few weeks. Get involved now to shape the contours of the code; it is time to “face it.”

Written By

Leslie Dunlap


If you want to comment on this post, you need to login.


Board of Directors

See the esteemed group of leaders shaping the future of the IAPP.

Contact Us

Need someone to talk to? We’re here for you.

IAPP Staff

Looking for someone specific? Visit the staff directory.

Learn more about the IAPP»

Daily Dashboard

The day’s top stories from around the world

Privacy Perspectives

Where the real conversations in privacy happen

The Privacy Advisor

Original reporting and feature articles on the latest privacy developments

Privacy Tracker

Alerts and legal analysis of legislative trends

Privacy Tech

Exploring the technology of privacy

Canada Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top Canadian privacy news

Europe Data Protection Digest

A roundup of the top European data protection news

Asia-Pacific Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top privacy news from the Asia-Pacific region

IAPP Westin Research Center

Original works. Groundbreaking research. Emerging scholars.

Advertise in IAPP Publications

Find out how to get your message in front the people you want to reach. Download a media kit now.

Get more News »

Find a KnowledgeNet Chapter Near You

Network and talk privacy at IAPP KnowledgeNet meetings, taking place worldwide.

Women Leading Privacy

Events, volunteer opportunities and more designed to help you give and get career support and expand your network.

IAPP Job Board

Looking for a new challenge, or need to hire your next privacy pro? The IAPP Job Board is the answer.

Join the Privacy List

Have ideas? Need advice? Subscribe to the Privacy List. It’s crowdsourcing, with an exceptional crowd.

Find more ways to Connect »

Find a Privacy Training Class

Two-day privacy training classes are held around the world. See the complete schedule now.

Online Privacy Training

Build your knowledge. The privacy know-how you need is just a click away.

The Training Post—Can’t-Miss Training Updates

Subscribe now to get the latest alerts on training opportunities around the world.

New Web Conferences Added!

See our list of upcoming web conferences. Just log on, listen in and learn!

Train Your Staff

Get your team up to speed on privacy by bringing IAPP training to your organization.

Learn more »

CIPP Certification

The global standard for the go-to person for privacy laws, regulations and frameworks

CIPM Certification

The first and only privacy certification for professionals who manage day-to-day operations

CIPT Certification

The industry benchmark for IT professionals worldwide to validate their knowledge of privacy requirements

Certify Your Staff

Find out how you can bring the world’s only globally recognized privacy certification to a group in your organization.

Learn more about IAPP certification »

Get Close-up

Looking for tools and info on a hot topic? Our close-up pages organize it for you in one easy-to-find place.

Where's Your DPA?

Our interactive DPA locator helps you find data protection authorities and summary of law by country.

IAPP Westin Research Center

See the latest original research from the IAPP Westin fellows.

Looking for Certification Study Resources?

Find out what you need to prepare for your exams

More Resources »

GDPR Comprehensive: Registration Open

New! Intensive two-day GDPR training led by the sharpest minds in the field. It's a can't-miss event.

The Congress Is Cancelled

The IAPP Europe Data Protection Congress 2015 is cancelled. Click through to learn more.

Sponsor an Event

Increase visibility for your organization—check out sponsorship opportunities today.

Exhibit at an Event

Put your brand in front of the largest gatherings of privacy pros in the world. Learn more.

More Conferences »

Become a Member

Start taking advantage of the many IAPP member benefits today

Corporate Members

See our list of high-profile corporate members—and find out why you should become one, too

Renew Your Membership

Don’t miss out for a minute—continue accessing your benefits

Join the IAPP»