For immediate release: April 2, 2024


On Friday, the FTC denied an application for a facial recognition technology that was packaged as an age verification tool. The applicants aimed to sell their product to be used as a mechanism for parents and guardians to consent to data collection on their children under COPPA. 

The following statement can be attributed to Lia Holland (they/she) Campaigns and Communications Director at Fight for the Future:

“Based on a long history of error-ridden facial recognition technologies disproportionately harming people who aren’t affluent, white, and male, we applaud the FTC’s rejection of this facial recognition technology marketed as a tool to verify age. But we must go further by rejecting the entire premise for such a technology.

On its face, forcing parents and guardians to give up biometric information so that children can play games or connect with peers is misguided and dangerous—but the motivation behind the need for this technology is way worse. The reason these corporations even applied to the FTC was because there is still a market among unscrupulous tech corporations for so-called solutions that enable them to collect and exploit the data of children under thirteen. 

With technologies like this, the only winner will ever be the tech corporations. Adults must give up not only their faces to be analyzed and potentially monetized, but also allow the rooms in which their children play and learn to be invaded. All so that the children themselves can be surveilled and analyzed, their play sold for profit in ways that it is impossible for any parent to meaningfully consent to.

These corporations should be banned from collecting the data of little kids entirely. Facial recognition should be totally banned, too. We have all the data we need to reject technologies such as these and demand strong federal data privacy laws that protect parents and kids alike.  But in the meantime, we are deeply relieved that the FTC has told these corporations that their creepy facial phrenology scans ain’t it.”