Consumer groups to approach FTC over Facebook's facial recognition

Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

(Reuters) - A civil rights group and some consumer groups said on Friday they would file a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleging that Facebook Inc’s use of facial recognition techniques threaten users’ privacy.

The social media company has come under fire after it was disclosed that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which worked for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, gained access to the personal data of up to 87 million Facebook users.

Facial recognition techniques are used by Facebook to help users tag their friends in photos on the social media platform.

"The scanning of facial images without express, affirmative consent is unlawful and must be enjoined," Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) said. (

People can choose whether or not to allow this technology and they can change their mind at any time. When someone has their setting turned off, we don’t use this technology to identify them in photos, Facebook Deputy Chief Privacy Officer Rob Sherman said.

In 2011, Facebook had settled privacy-related charges with the FTC, which were brought about by EPIC's complaints. (

EPIC and the consumer groups said on Friday that Facebook’s use of facial recognition tools also violates terms of the 2011 settlement.

Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta