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Privacy Group Urges FTC to Probe HireVue’s Use of Biometric Data

Nov. 6, 2019, 9:12 PM

A privacy group wants the Federal Trade Commission to investigate HireVue Inc., alleging that the recruiting technology company’s uses of facial recognition technology, biometric data, and “secret” algorithms amount to unfair and deceptive trade practices.

The company allegedly collects thousands of biometric data points on job candidates through its assessments and inputs the data into “secret ‘predictive algorithms’ that allegedly determine each candidates’ ‘employability,’” the Electronic Privacy Information Center said in its Nov. 6 FTC complaint alleging violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act.

“Because these algorithms are secret—even to HireVue itself, in some cases—it is impossible for job candidates to know how their personal data is being used or to consent to such uses,” EPIC alleged. “HireVue’s intrusive collection and secret analysis of biometric data thus causes substantial privacy harms to job candidates,” the group claimed.

Artificial intelligence-based job recruiting and screening systems increasingly are attracting attention from privacy advocates and lawmakers. The technology, which employers can use to streamline recruitment processes, is the target of a new law in Illinois that takes effect in January. The Artificial Intelligence Video Interview Act is the first in the country to impose transparency and consent obligations on Illinois employers that use the technology.

HireVue, based in Utah, offers artificial intelligence-based video interviewing software and pre-employment assessments, according to its website. The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

An FTC spokeswoman confirmed that the agency received the complaint, but declined further comment.

HireVue also deceptively uses facial recognition technology because it advertises that it doesn’t use the technology in its video assessments, EPIC alleged. The company “collects facial data in its video interviews,” which means it uses facial recognition technology as defined by the FTC, the group alleged.

EPIC wants the FTC to halt the company’s scoring of job applicants pending “substantial changes in business practices,” and require that HireVue make public the algorithm it uses to create assessments of job candidates, among other actions.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sara Merken in Washington at smerken@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebecca Baker at rbaker@bloomberglaw.com; Keith Perine at kperine@bloomberglaw.com

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