Privacy

Feds' facial recognition systems fall outside code of conduct

monitor faces

Federal agencies' facial recognition systems won't immediately fall under the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's effort to develop a privacy code of conduct for the technology's commercial use, but could be added in the future.

NTIA is in the process of developing a voluntary code-of-conduct for rapidly emerging facial recognition technologies that address growing privacy concerns. In the last few weeks, the agency has been holding its initial public meetings with industry and consumer stakeholder groups to get input for the code, which the Federal Trade Commission would ultimately enforce.

At the NTIA's Feb. 6 stakeholder meeting, the American Civil Liberties Union and Center for Digital Democracy pushed to include in the discussion facial recognition systems like those used by the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice.

At the Feb. 25 meeting, however, John Morris, associate administrator and director of Internet policy at NTIA's Office of Policy Analysis Development, said the code would focus on commercial use. He didn't specifically rule out including federal systems in the future, however, adding the group might circle back to take a look at federal agencies' systems when the initial commercial code work is done.

"We understand that some stakeholders are interested in this topic, and recognize that it is an important issue," Morris said at the Feb. 25 meeting.

The government's use of the technology, he said, is outside the Federal Trade Commission's consumer-focused enforcement authority. “The same is true for companies that themselves provide technology to the government for the government’s use," he added.

Creating a draft commercial-use code is already a tall order for the group..

"Frankly everyone here has limited time and we really think we should focus primarily on what we can do something about,” Morris said. “It’s an important topic and a big topic and actually I think that this group will have an awful lot on its plate just to work through the commercial side.”

The NTIA meetings continue through June.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer covering acquisition, procurement and homeland security. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.

The 2015 Federal 100

Meet 100 women and men who are doing great things in federal IT.

Featured

  • Shutterstock image (by venimo): e-learning concept image, digital content and online webinar icons.

    Can MOOCs make the grade for federal training?

    Massive open online courses can offer specialized IT instruction on a flexible schedule and on the cheap. That may not always mesh with government's preference for structure and certification, however.

  • Shutterstock image (by edel): graduation cap and diploma.

    Cybersecurity: 6 schools with the right stuff

    The federal government craves more cybersecurity professionals. These six schools are helping meet that demand.

  • Rick Holgate

    Holgate to depart ATF

    Former ACT president will take a job with Gartner, follow his spouse to Vienna, Austria.

  • Are VA techies slacking off on Yammer?

    A new IG report cites security and productivity concerns associated with employees' use of the popular online collaboration tool.

  • Shutterstock image: digital fingerprint, cyber crime.

    Exclusive: The OPM breach details you haven't seen

    An official timeline of the Office of Personnel Management breach obtained by FCW pinpoints the hackers’ calibrated extraction of data, and the government's step-by-step response.

  • Stephen Warren

    Deputy CIO Warren exits VA

    The onetime acting CIO at Veterans Affairs will be taking over CIO duties at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

  • Shutterstock image: monitoring factors of healthcare.

    DOD awards massive health records contract

    Leidos, Accenture and Cerner pull off an unexpected win of the multi-billion-dollar Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization contract, beating out the presumptive health-records leader.

  • Sweating the OPM data breach -- Illustration by Dragutin Cvijanovic

    Sweating the stolen data

    Millions of background-check records were compromised, OPM now says. Here's the jaw-dropping range of personal data that was exposed.

  • FCW magazine

    Let's talk about Alliant 2

    The General Services Administration is going to great lengths to gather feedback on its IT services GWAC. Will it make for a better acquisition vehicle?

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above