New York City’s new biometrics privacy law takes effect

A new biometrics privacy ordinance has taken effect across New York City, putting new limits on what businesses can do with the biometric data they collect on their customers.

From Friday, businesses that collect biometric information — most commonly in the form of facial recognition and fingerprints — are required to conspicuously post notices and signs to customers at their doors explaining how their data will be collected. The ordinance applies to a wide range of businesses — retailers, stores, restaurants, and theaters, to name a few — which are also barred from selling, sharing, or otherwise profiting from the biometric information that they collect.

The move will give New Yorkers — and its millions of visitors each year — greater protections over how their biometric data is collected and used, while also serving to dissuade businesses from using technology that critics say is discriminatory and often doesn’t work.

Businesses can face stiff penalties for violating the law, but can escape fines if they fix the violation quickly.

The law is by no means perfect, as none of these laws ever are. For one, it doesn’t apply to government agencies, including the police. Of the businesses that the ordinance does cover, it exempts employees of those businesses, such as those required to clock in and out of work with a fingerprint. And the definition of what counts as a biometric will likely face challenges that could expand or narrow what is covered.

New York is the latest U.S. city to enact a biometric privacy law, after Portland, Oregon passed a similar ordinance last year. But the law falls short of stronger biometric privacy laws in effect.

Illinois, which has the Biometric Information Privacy Act, a law that grants residents the right to sue for any use of their biometric data without consent. Facebook this year settled for $650 million in a class-action suit that Illinois residents filed in 2015 after the social networking giant used facial recognition to tag users in photos without their permission.

Albert Fox Cahn, the executive director of the New York-based Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, said the law is an “important step” to learn how New Yorkers are tracked by local businesses.

“A false facial recognition match could mean having the NYPD called on you just for walking into a Rite Aid or Target,” he told TechCrunch. He also said that New York should go further by outlawing systems like facial recognition altogether, as some cities have done.

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Product Managers Get Familiar With Microbrands

Microbrands are changing how new products can be introduced
Microbrands are changing how new products can be introduced
Image Credit: Vektorlogo

As product managers, the one thing that I believe that most of us feel that we have a pretty good handle on is how new products are created and introduced. I mean, we’ve worked at companies where this was probably part of our job and so we’ve had to sit through all of the planning meetings, review designs, work with sales, and find ways to get the product actually manufactured. However, in our constantly changing world, things are once again changing and how new products get introduced is being replaced with microbrands.

What Is A Microbrand?

So just exactly what is a microbrand? Microbrands are the different gadgets, apparel, cosmetics, furniture, and food that are now popping up just about everywhere that we go online. Where things start to get really strange is that these products are targeting us with what seems to be uncanny precision. Some of these microbrands blow up and become big successes and would look good on our product manager resume. At the same time, some of them fade into the background and seem to disappear.

The reason that microbrands have suddenly shown up is that that tools that are needed to create them has recently become available. New technologies and new marketing techniques have come together to permit savvy product managers to quickly introduce new microbrands. Product managers can now perform audience testing with only a prototype or a mockup before the product has been created. Microbrands are changing our concept of a product development definition. The product managers can then call on overseas factories to perform rapid manufacturing and then they can outsource all of the shipping and collecting of payments.

The arrival of microbrand has started to change the marketplace for product managers. They have changed who can launch a new product, how a product is funded, how a product is manufactured, and how a product is advertised. In fact, microbrands can change how a product is thought up in the first place. Established brands have seen the arrival of microbrands and because of this they have decided that they are going to copy them. One way to look at this is that a new “brand stack” is being created. A brand stack is a layered stack of components that can be used to develop and deliver a new product.

How Are Microbrands Introduced?

So in this new world of microbrands that we now find ourselves living, what are the rules? How is this new microbrand stack being used by product managers to enable the explosion of new microbrands? How can a new microbrand be launched? The first thing that is needed is some good stock photography that can then be matched with clever ad copy. Once you have created an ad for your product (even if the product does not yet exist), you can then perform marketing using online social media tools such as Instagram and Facebook. As you measure how many people select your ad you’ll start to get a sense of the demand for what you have to offer.

These initial tests are a critical part of the new product introduction process. If the click rate on your ads is high enough, this could be all that it takes to motivate you to start an offshore factory creating your product. Targeting the right potential customers can also be done these days with great precision. Using complex artificial intelligence algorithms product managers can locate people who have purchased or clicked on similar products and then present their ads to them. Microbrands that have the most polished videos and graphics are the ones that end up getting the greatest number of clicks online.

In order to get customers who have never head of a specific microbrand before to purchase it, product managers are getting creative and using both low prices along with free shipping to cause potential customers to turn into actual customers. Deciding to manufacture a product has become easier because automation in factories has allowed them to become more flexible. Manufacturing lines are using computerization to quickly switch between different products. Additionally, other product related tasks such as handling inventory, taking payments, and shipping goods can now be outsourced.

What All Of This Means For You

Product managers who thought that they knew all of the different things that had to be done in order to introduce a new product because it was in their product manager job description are starting to become aware that things have changed. A new breed of product, the microbrand, has arrived on the scene and they are changing everything. Product managers are going to have to learn the new rules for introducing a product.

Microbrands are showing up everywhere online. Some of these brands go on to greatness and some of the just end up fading away. The reason that microbrands have suddenly arrived is because new tools and technology are allowing product managers to quickly and easily introduce them. Microbrands have changed how new products are being introduced. Established firms have seen this and they are adjusting how they introduce new products. A new brand stack has been created. Good stock photos and some ad copy will allow Instagram and Facebook ads to be run that can measure customer interest in a product. If customers are interested, then offshore factories can be used to start manufacturing. All of the additional support services such as taking payments and shipping can now be outsourced.

What this means for product managers is that we now have the ability to fail fast. We can come up with an idea for a new product, test the market for it, and then move on if there is no interest or start to create it if there is. No longer will we have to spend a year creating a new product only to introduce it and see it fail. Microbranding allows us to test the waters and then spend time on the products that are going to be a success and skip the ones that will just end up being a failure. Finally we can spend our time working on the things that really matter!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that the things that make it easy to launch a microbrand might also make it hard to grow the brand if it is successful?