Facebook holds at least two patents to track user eye movements, but denies that it’s currently developing the technology.
“Like many companies, we apply for a wide variety of patents to protect our intellectual property. Right now we’re not building technology to identify people with eye-tracking cameras,” Facebook wrote in a 229-page response to a set of questions from the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
“If we implement this technology in the future, we will absolutely do so with people’s privacy in mind, just as we do with movement information (which we anonymize in our systems).”
The social media giant filed the first patent titled Techniques for Emotion Detection and Content Delivery in February 2014 and the second one called Dynamic Eye Tracking Calibration in October 2017.
Facebook said this “eye-based identity” technology could lower “consumer friction” and add security when they use or log into Oculus, the virtual reality company they bought in 2014.
“We believe that it’s important to communicate with people about the information that we collect and how people can control it,” Facebook wrote in response to a question posed by senate committee chairperson John Thune of South Dakota in April (before the General Data Protection Regulations were enacted).
“Privacy is at the core of everything we do, and our approach to privacy starts with our commitment to transparency and control.”
The document’s queries are a compilation of unanswered questions posed to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg during his testimony last month titled Facebook, Social Media Privacy and the Use and Abuse of Data.
That hearing addressed how his social media corporation allowed Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm working for then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, to access 50 million users’ data for targeted advertisements.