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The FTC Demands Deletion of Facial Recognition Technology Developed with Data that Violated Users’ Privacy

Publications / Jan 31, 2021

Article written by Haim Ravia, Dotan Hammer and Adi Shoval

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reached a settlement with photo storage app developer Everalbum, Inc. which was alleged to have deceived consumers about its use of facial recognition technology and its retention of the photos and videos of users who deactivated their accounts.

Everalbum offers an app called “Ever” that allowed users to upload photos and videos from their devices or social media accounts to be stored and organized using the company’s cloud-based storage service. The FTC’s investigation focused on the company’s feature called “Friends” which used facial recognition technology to identify and group users’ friends and allowed users to tag their friends by name.

The FTC found that, contrary to the company’s privacy policy which maintained that the feature will only be activated upon a user’s affirmative consent, the Friends feature was activated as the default setting for all mobile app users. The company also did not inform users that it will be using their images not just to provide the service, but also to further develop its technology. The company was also accused of not deleting photos of users who have deactivated their accounts, despite stating it does so in its privacy policy.

The proposed settlement requires the company to delete the photos of users who have deactivated their accounts or did not provide their consent. Notably, it also requires the company to delete any facial recognition models and algorithms it developed through the use of users’ photos or videos, given that it neglected to disclose this use in its privacy policy. The company must also amend its privacy policy so it will accurately reflect its privacy and data protection practices and obtain users’ express consent before using biometric information to create face embeddings or develop facial recognition technology.

CLICK HERE to read the FTC press release regarding Everalbum.

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