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Consumer Groups Plan Complaint Over Facebook’s Facial Recognition

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A coalition of consumer groups are planning to file a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over Facebook’s use of facial recognition to tag photos. The groups contend the technology violates the privacy of the social media platform’s users, Reuters reported.

“The scanning of facial images without express, affirmative consent is unlawful and must be enjoined,” Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) said.

But Facebook Deputy Chief Privacy Officer Rob Sherman said users can decide whether they would like to use the technology and can opt out whenever they wish to do so. Additionally, Sherman said the platform doesn’t use the technology to identify users in photos who opt to disable the setting.

In 2011, EPIC lodged complaints against Facebook, and the social media platform ended up settling those charges related to privacy with the FTC. However, EPIC and other consumers contend Facebook’s deployment of the facial recognition tools goes against the terms of that 2011 settlement.

The news follows allegations that Cambridge Analytica improperly collected personal data from Facebook users that was reportedly used to help elect U.S. President Donald Trump. As far as Cambridge Analytica is concerned, the firm has made some pretty big claims — namely, that it can take raw personality data from a subset of voters and develop complex models of individuals, which campaigns can then use to target and micro-target voter communities to help move elections their way.

The firm’s most specific (and biggest) claim, however, is that it conducted this advanced voter modeling for the Trump organization during the 2016 election — and that it was on the strength of those data models that Trump was able to turn swing states, like Michigan and Wisconsin, from blue to red.

As those claims circulated, U.S. legislators asked Mark Zuckerberg to testify about Cambridge Analytica’s alleged misuse of the social media platform’s data. Zuckerberg is scheduled to appear before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 11, Reuters reported.

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