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 at FCW.

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.


FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.

Featured

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1996, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

  • Shutterstock image.

    Merged IT modernization bill punts on funding

    A House panel approved a new IT modernization bill that appears poised to pass, but key funding questions are left for appropriators.

  • General Frost

    Army wants cyber capability everywhere

    The Army's cyber director said cyber, electronic warfare and information operations must be integrated into warfighters' doctrine and training.

  • Rising Star 2013

    Meet the 2016 Rising Stars

    FCW honors 30 early-career leaders in federal IT.

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

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group