During Mark Zuckerberg's first day of hearings on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Senator Richard Durbin, D-Illinois, tried to ask the Facebook CEO a question about his state. "Illinois has a Biometric Information Privacy Act, or the state does, which is to regulate the commercial use of facial, voice, finger and iris scans and the like. And I'm afraid Facebook has come down to the position of trying to carve out exceptions to that. I hope you'll fill me in on how that is consistent with protecting privacy." Zuckerberg never had to answer the question because Durbin's time expired.
Facebook faces the dilemma of losing trust and even users in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica data leak. Consumer privacy groups are filing a complaint with the FTC that Facebook is violating a privacy decree by failing to get consent from users before it scans their photos to identify them. Already under siege over loose privacy controls and Russian manipulation, Facebook is about to be challenged on another issue: facial recognition. The Electronic Privacy Information Center and several other consumer groups plan Friday to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission asking for an investigation into the network's use of facial recognition technology. Facebook for years has used the technology to help users in tagging photos, but it has failed to gain proper consent for linking biometric markers with individual users, the technology watchdog groups say.
A controversial Facebook AI tool could soon be making a return to Europe and Canada. Facial recognition, launched in 2010, suggests names for people it identifies in photos uploaded by users. It was suspended for users in Europe in 2012 over privacy concerns, but still lives on in the US and other regions worldwide. Now the firm says it will make a comeback, using the new European data protection regulations as a chance to collect more information if users opt in. The move to reintroduce the image scanning software is likely to ruffle feathers, coming in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data handling debacle.
Facebook is planning to exclude 1.5 billion of its worldwide users from new European laws protecting data privacy, it has emerged. European Union (EU) regulations coming into force next month will crack down on how companies like Facebook use and sell the data they collect on users. Almost 1.9 billion non-EU international users, outside of the US and Canada, would be protected by the stricter law under current rules. But a change in the site's terms of service - which comes as Facebook faces increasing scrutiny from lawmakers - seeks to ensure that the number will be much smaller. The news comes as Facebook continues to battle a scandal in which user's profiles wrongly ended up in the hands of British firm Cambridge Analytica. This has sparked wider concerns about how the world's most popular social network handles the information it stores about its more than two billion users.