In addition to a vote that led to action being taken against healthcare apps for violating privacy practices, on 18 May Federal Trade Commission unanimously passed its policy statement on the misuse of biometric information in marketing and advertising campaigns.

The policy targets commercial practices that sell technologies using customers’ biometrics data, opposing the FTC’s values to uphold privacy, data security, and mitigate the potential for bias.

Outlined in Section 5 of the FTC Act, the policy statement gives details on the legal uses of biometric technology for identification purposes however lists examples of practices the policy will take action over if deemed to constitute “surveillance” and improper use of this technology.

Although not binding as a lawful action, the policy is a strong guideline that follows other policy statements which companies should consider will be enforced in the future by the FTC.

Samuel Levine, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection (FTC) aligned biometrics with surveillance, commenting:

“In recent years, biometric surveillance has grown more sophisticated and pervasive, posing new threats to privacy and civil rights. Today’s policy statement makes clear that companies must comply with the law regardless of the technology they are using.”