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PostSubject: Senators introduce bill to regulate facial recognition technology   Thu Mar 14, 2019 8:48 pm

A bipartisan pair of senators on Thursday introduced a bill that would regulate the commercial use of facial recognition technology, an issue that has gained steam as critics have raised civil rights concerns over the relatively unregulated technology.

Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), members of the Senate Commerce Committee, introduced the first-of-its-kind legislation, which has endorsements from Microsoft and digital rights group the Center for Democracy and Technology.

"Consumers are increasingly concerned about how their data is being collected and used, including data collected through facial recognition technology," Blunt said in a statement. “That’s why we need guardrails to ensure that, as this technology continues to develop, it is implemented responsibly."

Facial recognition technology analyzes human faces for the purpose of identifying them. Amazon's facial recognition technology, Rekognition, in particular has come under fire for misidentifying people of color as criminals during research, and privacy advocates have long said facial recognition tech offers governments and companies excessive access to information about peoples' daily lives.

Under Schatz and Blunt's bill, the Commercial Facial Recognition Privacy Act, companies would be required to gain peoples' consent before using facial recognition technology in public places and before sharing any of their data with third parties.

It would also require human reviewers to test any products before they are implemented, an effort to weed out issues with algorithmic bias and accuracy before the technologies become available to the public.

"Our faces are our identities," Schatz said in a statement. "They’re personal. So the responsibility is on companies to ask people for their permission before they track and analyze their faces."

"Our bill makes sure that people are given the information and – more importantly  – the control over how their data is shared with companies using facial recognition technology," Schatz said.

The legislation would ask facial recognition technology providers to meet security standards set by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and National Institute of Standards and Technology.
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