Facebook is battling for the legal means to collect data of its users faces. A lawsuit on the matter proceeding in Illinois has only led to more aggressive lobbying to make sure other states can’t take similar actions.
Innocently allowing Facebook to recognize your face in photos for the tagging feature is allowing Facebook to store facial recognition data on the faces of its users. Facebook wants to decide how it will use that data beyond simply photo tagging. “Can I say that we will never use facial recognition technology for any other purposes? Absolutely not,” said Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan, via Reuters.
Facebook’s fight to guard its data and its data collection methods have been fierce and backed with big money. Facebook spent $8.7 million to lobby the federal government, according to the Daily Beast. The lobbying efforts also include data security, and tax reform, and other topics relevant to Facebook’s interests.
Because of Facebook’s huge database of photos with faces of its large user base, its facial recognition data is the strongest. Other facial recognition programs, even those in government and in law enforcement, can’t compare. Legislators worry about the power this gives Facebook and the resulting cost to society by collecting this data.
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) wrote a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about his facial recognition database expansion efforts and the potential societal concerns that could result. His letter expressed an overall concern about the technology and how it could be used to alter basic privacies.
“Facial recognition technology has profound implications for privacy. Cookies track you across the Internet; with a little tech savvy, you can block them or delete them after the fact. Facial recognition tracks you in the real world, from cameras stationed on street corners and in shopping centers, and through photographs taken by friends and strangers alike. Unlike other biometrics such as fingerprints and iris scans, which require physical contact or proximity, facial recognition can operate at a distance, entirely without the knowledge of the person being identified. And there is no practical way for an individual person to stop it. Unfortunately, no federal law governs the commercial use of this technology,” writes Franken.