New York Times: Facebook, Citing Societal Concerns, Plans to Shut Down Facial Recognition System

November 2, 2021

“Over the last decade, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington-based privacy advocacy group, filed two complaints about Facebook’s use of facial recognition with the F.T.C. When the F.T.C. fined Facebook in 2019, it named the site’s confusing privacy settings around facial recognition as one of the reasons for the penalty.

“This was a known problem that we called out over 10 years ago but it dragged out for a long time,” said Alan Butler, EPIC’s executive director. He said he was glad Facebook had made the decision, but added that the protracted episode exemplified the need for more robust U.S. privacy protections.

“Every other modern democratic society and country has a data protection regulator,” Mr. Butler said. “The law is not well designed to address these problems. We need more clear legal rules and principles and a regulator that is actively looking into these issues day in and day out.”

Mr. Butler also called for Facebook to do more to prevent its photos from being used to power other companies’ facial recognition systems, such as Clearview AI and PimEyes, start-ups that have scraped photos from the public web, including from Facebook and from its sister app, Instagram.

Read the full article here.

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