The World Privacy Forum appreciates the opportunity to comment on the issue of facial recognition pursuant to the FTC Face Facts Workshop held on December 8, 2011.  The World Privacy Forum spoke on Panel 4 of the workshop, and those comments are already on the record. In these written comments, we would like to submit several key documents for the record and reaffirm several ideas from the workshop. The documents we are including as part of these comments include the World Privacy Forum’s groundbreaking report on digital signage, The One Way Mirror Society. Also included as part of these comments are the consensus privacy principles for digital signage installations that were signed by the leading US consumer and privacy groups.
Facial recognition — Pam Dixon of WPF testified at the FTC’s Facial Recognition workshop, speaking on a panel about the policy implications of facial recognition technology. The World Privacy Forum’s report on Digital Signage was mentioned several times at the hearing, as were the collaborative consumer protection principles the WPF led.
Privacy tip — If you have a Facebook account and if you have ever been tagged in a photo of yourself on Facebook, we want to alert you to an important Facebook setting. Unless you have proactively changed your privacy settings, Facebook will use facial recognition tools to compare photos and make tag suggestions. When new photos that look like you have been uploaded, Facebook will suggest tags with your name. To opt out of this, in Facebook go to Account, then choose Privacy Settings from the drop down menu. Click the Customize Settings link, and then scroll down and look for the Suggest Photos of Me to Friends line. To opt out, click Edit Settings, then choose Disable on the drop down menu.
FTC Privacy Roundtable — Thursday, January 28, WPF Executive Director Pam Dixon will be speaking at the FTC’s Privacy Roundtable about the privacy implications of digital signage networks and will be specifically discussing the new report: The One-Way Mirror Society: Privacy Implications of the New Digital Signage Networks. Few consumers, legislators, regulators, or policy makers are aware of the capabilities of digital signs or of the extent of their use. The technology presents new problems and highlights old conflicts about privacy, public spaces, and the need for a meaningful debate.
This 2010 WPF report, The One Way Mirror Society, explores new forms of sophisticated digital signage networks and their privacy implications in the US and other countries. Digital signage networks are being deployed widely by retailers and others in both public and private spaces. From simple people-counting sensors mounted on doorways to sophisticated facial recognition cameras mounted in flat video screens and end-cap displays, digital signage technologies are gathering increasing amounts of detailed information about consumers, their behaviors, and their characteristics.