California Co. Asked To Obtain Consumers’ Consent For Using Facial Recognition Tech

A California-based developer of a photo app has settled Federal Trade Commission allegations that it deceived consumers about its use of facial recognition technology and its retention of the photos and videos of users who deactivated their accounts.

Everalbum has agreed that it will obtain consumers’ express consent before using facial recognition technology on their photos and videos. The company is also required to delete models and algorithms it developed by using the photos and videos uploaded by its users.

“Using facial recognition, companies can turn photos of your loved ones into sensitive biometric data,” Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said. “Ensuring that companies keep their promises to customers about how they use and handle biometric data will continue to be a high priority for the FTC.”

Everalbum offered an app called “Ever” that allowed users to upload photos and videos to be stored and organized using its cloud-based storage service.

The FTC alleged that Everalbum launched a new feature in the Ever app, called “Friends,” that used facial recognition technology to group users’ photos by the faces of the people who appear in them and allowed users to “tag” people by name. Everalbum allegedly enabled facial recognition by default for all mobile app users when it launched the Friends feature.

Everalbum also promised users that the company would delete the photos and videos of Ever users who deactivated their accounts. The FTC alleges, however, that until at least October 2019, Everalbum failed to delete the photos or videos of any users who had deactivated their accounts and instead retained them indefinitely.

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