With facial recognition growing in popularity and uses showing up everywhere from the airport to retailers, two U.S. senators introduced legislation that would prevent businesses from collecting and using facial recognition data without the consent of consumers.
According to a report in CNET, the bill is called the Commercial Facial Recognition Privacy Act and is designed to protect consumers’ privacy as facial recognition is used more often. The bill would block businesses from using facial recognition technology to identify and follow customers in their stores unless they sign off on it. If the bill introduced by Missouri Republican Roy Blunt and Hawaiian Democrat Brian Schatz passed, it would be the first piece of legislation on the federal level aimed at protecting consumers’ privacy when using facial recognition. “Our faces are our identities. They’re personal. So the responsibility is on companies to ask people for their permission before they track and analyze their faces,” Schatz said in a statement to CNET.
In addition to lawmakers, CNET reported Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft, said he backs the bill. He said the technology needs to be regulated to prevent discrimination and bias and to protect the privacy of consumers. Privacy advocates have also raised concerns about facial recognition technology because there’s a chance a business can record a person’s location and shopping habits and track them. CNET noted businesses share and sell biometric data often.
With the bill, businesses that deploy facial recognition technology will have to engage in mandatory tests to ensure the system is accurate and there is no bias. Companies would also be barred from selling facial recognition technology data without the consent of the consumer. “Consumers are increasingly concerned about how their data is being collected and used, including data collected through facial recognition technology,” Blunt said in the report.