A House lawmaker co-sponsoring landmark privacy legislation on Wednesday condemned Facebook’s inclusion of automated facial recognition technology on its platform on a default basis.“Requiring users to disable this feature after they’ve already been included by Facebook is no substitute for an opt-in process,” Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass. said in a press statement issued Wednesday. “If this new feature is as useful as Facebook claims, it should be able to stand on its own, without an automatic sign-up that changes users’ privacy settings without their permission.”
Facebook first rolled out the facial recognition feature in December in the United States. The feature suggests tags to users who’ve uploaded pictures of their friends.
A Sophos security blogger in the United Kingdom caused a stir Tuesday when he noted that Facebook had turned on the feature in Europe without providing the community with much notice.
Markey’s statement is notable both because he’s co-sponsoring a closely-watched privacy bill with Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas that seeks to update the laws that protect children’s’ privacy online.
Markey and Barton’s legislation would, among other things, require companies to obtain parental consent before they could conduct targeted marketing campaigns to people under the age of 18, or track them with geolocation services.