FTC Orders Photo App to Delete Algorithms Built on Personal Data
January 11, 2021
The Federal Trade Commission has reached a settlement with Everalbum, Inc., a California-based developer of a photo storage app, over allegations that it deceived consumers about its use of facial recognition technology and its retention of the photos and videos of users who deactivated their accounts. The proposed order requires the company to delete the facial recognition technologies it illegally developed using user photos and videos. According to the FTC complaint, Everalbum represented that it would not apply facial recognition technology to users’ content unless users affirmatively chose to activate the feature. But the company allowed some Ever app users—those located in Illinois, Texas, and Washington state —to choose whether to turn on the face recognition feature, even though it was automatically active for all other users and could not be turned off. Commissioner Rohit Chopra noted in an accompanying statement that residents of those states were afforded stronger protections because their legislatures had passed laws regulating facial recognition and biometric identifiers. Everalbum's differential treatment of users illustrates why Congress must ensure that any proposed federal privacy law sets a baseline for the country while protecting the ability of states to enact stronger privacy laws.