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Privacy Insider newsletter - Jan. 12

  • by Angelique Carson
  • last updated January 12, 2021
  • 5 min read
Privacy Insider newsletter - Jan. 12

Here in the U.S., we’re still recovering a bit from what happened last week at the U.S. Capitol, where thousands of President Donald Trump supporters stormed a legislative session and five people died. 

It was a somber day, and the aftermath continues. The Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as Washington, DC police and other state authorities are now hunting down the perpetrators. One of the tools employed to identify the individuals caught in photos of the event is facial recognition technology. In fact, Clearview AI, a facial recognition technology company, said it saw a 26 percent jump in use of its product the day after the mob. 

While there’s a public will to punish those who put U.S. democracy and human lives at stake, we find ourselves in yet another debate over whether security should always take precedence over privacy in times of national crisis. The use of facial recognition technology is still very controversial globally, and only a few municipalities or cities in the U.S. have regulated or outright banned its use. At the federal level, there aren’t hard and fast rules about how law enforcement can apply it nor standards or best practices over how it does so. 

In this week’s edition of the Privacy Insider newsletter, you’ll see evidence of this ongoing debate. The Federal Trade Commission, in fact, made history this week by reaching a settlement with a photo-sharing company who allegedly created facial recognition algorithms using photos users had uploaded. The users didn’t consent to such use, so, while there isn’t a “facial recognition technology” statute the FTC could base a case on, the agency could nail the company for deceiving its users — an authority granted to the agency under Section 5 of The FTC Act. 

And in New York, the state is considering a bill on facial recognition technology. It’s one to watch, because it allows for a private right of action for violations of the law. Only one other state in the U.S. has a similar model, the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. Plenty of lawsuits have been filed citing BIPA violations, so it’s an important provision for New York to consider and one that will no doubt incite plenty of debate if the bill pushes forward in the coming months. 

Enjoy reading, and we’ll see you next week! 

Penny

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Here are the top stories you might have missed:

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About The Author · Angelique Carson

Angelique Carson is a professional writer and editor who's worked in journalism and publishing for more than 10 years. She is currently Director of Content at Osano, a B-corp privacy-solution platform aiming to make compliance with global privacy laws easy for companies, including small- and medium-sized businesses. She was previously an editor at the International Association of Privacy Professionals and the host of The Privacy Advisor Podcast. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her puppy Miles.