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22-Apr-2016 12:21

What’s important to understand first is that even this most serious form of facial recognition has two different varieties.

There’s an online, computer-augmented form: Can software identify you from a picture uploaded to Facebook?

And, once corporate metadata can recognize and glom onto our bodies—in all their “everlasting sameness”—we can never escape that link. The negotiations included representatives from both consumer-advocacy groups and the tech industry.

The talks are still ongoing, but they no longer include the consumer advocates.

For what consumer advocacy groups and industry representatives in the talks could not agree on, above all, was consent.

How would regulation of facial-recognition software even work?

Almost everything that represents me online is ultimately a jumble of numbers and letters, and nearly all of it—with some cost or sacrifice—can be changed. It’s prohibitively expensive to change them beyond recognition, if it’s even possible. Department of Commerce held talks about how and whether facial-recognition technology should be regulated.

Even victims of fraud or domestic violence can apply to the government for a new social-security number. Facial recognition and other biometrics bind data about us to us like nothing else. The talks, officially called the “privacy multi-stakeholder process,” were convened by the National Telecommunications and Information Association (NTIA), the government agency that advises the president on technology policy.

The second is facial characterization, which discerns the demographics of a face: It sees not a generic human but a white male in his early thirties.“Those eyes, that nose, that mouth—the variations of expression they’re capable of is really so restricted.The grimmest human tragedy can furrow the brow little more than the momentary pain of the dentist's drill.”He thinks of his family, his friends, all the people in his life who know him in large part through his countenance.User privacy groups, including the EFF and the Consumer Federation of America, walked out in June over what they said was industry obstinance.The industry and its lobbyists, they said, would not admit that users might want to consent to facial-recognition software in the most extreme instances imaginable, so it was no use participating in the talks.

The second is facial characterization, which discerns the demographics of a face: It sees not a generic human but a white male in his early thirties.“Those eyes, that nose, that mouth—the variations of expression they’re capable of is really so restricted.The grimmest human tragedy can furrow the brow little more than the momentary pain of the dentist's drill.”He thinks of his family, his friends, all the people in his life who know him in large part through his countenance.User privacy groups, including the EFF and the Consumer Federation of America, walked out in June over what they said was industry obstinance.The industry and its lobbyists, they said, would not admit that users might want to consent to facial-recognition software in the most extreme instances imaginable, so it was no use participating in the talks.As they walked out, the press promptly rushed in—perhaps because the failure of negotiations about digital privacy sounds foreboding and science-fictional.