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 senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


Featured

  • Contracting
    8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego

    DHS contractors face protests – on the streets

    Tech companies are facing protests internally from workers and externally from activists about doing for government amid controversial policies like "zero tolerance" for illegal immigration.

  • Workforce
    By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

    At OPM, Weichert pushes direct hire, pay agent changes

    Margaret Weichert, now acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, is clearing agencies to make direct hires in IT, cyber and other tech fields and is changing pay for specialized occupations.

  • Cloud
    Shutterstock ID ID: 222190471 By wk1003mike

    IBM protests JEDI cloud deal

    As the deadline to submit bids on the Pentagon's $10 billion, 10-year warfighter cloud deal draws near, IBM announced a legal protest.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.