How important is individualized and personalized content to you? Is it worth risking your privacy and security? The Consumers Union isn’t so sure that we should be prioritizing exciting new technologies over consumers’ personal privacy. The technology that is being debated over is one that can detect and recognize a person’s face in real time. This facial recognition technology would allow for instant, personalized content for the consumer. It does this by scanning a person’s face and analyzing it in order to determine the actual identity of the person.
The Consumers Union is skeptical of this new technology for the sake of privacy. With older facial detection software all data collected must remain completely anonymous and personal identifiers should never be saved. The facial detection software must not retain or transmit any data that has been collected and any companies that chose to use the facial detection technology must first give consumers clear notice that they will be using the technology as well as methods for avoiding the technology if it makes the consumer uncomfortable.
The new facial recognition technology is slightly more complex than older versions since it actually identifies the individual consumer. The Consumers Union is requesting that the FTC make companies obtain consumers informed consent prior to using the technology on them.
Currently, there are no clear standards that exist for the use of facial identification software. The Consumers Union is concerned because with the rapid advancement in technology, the fact that there are no current rules or regulations on the software could allow for industries to make up the rules and regulations as they go. The Consumers Union is demanding that clear standards need to be put in place immediately in order for consumers’ privacy and safety to not be put at risk. They are also requesting that the facial recognition technology not be used on children. Another target audience they request be avoided is young teens and weight loss/ muscle building supplements. The Consumers Union’s final point and is that consumers must be given advanced notice of the use of facial recognition within advertisements. After consumers receive a full disclosure of the software, then the informed consumer can decide for him or herself to either opt in or opt out.
I believe that this new technology is remarkable and extremely fascinating. I believe that we have entered a whole new era of advertising. I concur with all of the requests of the Consumers Union. It is crucial to create rules and regulations around the technology immediately and not make the rules up as you go. With this intimate software that can identify individuals for who they actually are it is imperative that there are no grey areas in the regulations. Individual privacy is already somewhat of an illusion and with this new technology it becomes even more of an illusion. The industry can now identify you and target you with specific advertisements, and to be honest I think that’s kind of brilliant and scary at the same time. It will be interesting to see where this goes.
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