Today a group of Congress Democrats reintroduced the law on the moratorium on facial recognition and biometric technology of 2021. And it is not a moment too early.
Earlier this month, a coalition of more than 40 data protection organizations, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Electronic data protection information center, Fight for the future, and Restore the fourth, issued a statement addressing a Prohibition or moratorium on the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement. In its statement, the coalition noted that the use of facial recognition technology by the police is already widespread.
“Law enforcement agencies routinely use the technology to compare an image from nearby smartphones, CCTV cameras, or other sources with facial image databases maintained by local, state and federal agencies,” the coalition noted. “There may be more than 133 million Americans in these databases, with at least thirty-one states giving police access to driver’s license pictures to conduct or request searches, and twenty-one states giving the FBI access to these investigative databases bring millions of Americans into one so-called “eternal lineup. ‘”
Additionally, more than 1,000 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have used the facial recognition tool developed by the surveillance startup Clearview AI. This company created its huge faceprint database by illegally scraping more than 3 billion photos from the internet, including job boards, news sites, YouTube and social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
The service allows the police to upload a photo of an unidentified person to the Clearview AI database and retrieve publicly published photos of that person along with the locations where the photos were published. The New York Post reported, “Rogue NYPD officers use sketchy [Clearview AI] Face recognition software on their personal phones that the departmental face recognition unit does not want to touch for security and misuse reasons. “
The Coalition of the Working Party argued that ubiquitous police facial recognition would restrict the exercise of the freedoms under the First Amendment to protest, attend political events, or gather in religious ceremonies. “American history is full of efforts to monitor people based on dissenting or religious beliefs, and facial recognition could reinforce that monitoring,” the coalition said.
In addition, the police often hide the fact that they used facial recognition software in an investigation, preventing defendants from exercising their Sixth Amendment rights challenge the accuracy of identifications through police procedures and software algorithms. Note, however, that the latest versions of face recognition technologies much worse at exactly In identifying black and brown people, the coalition stressed that “facial recognition expands the scope and power of law enforcement, an institution that has a long and documented history of racial discrimination and violence that continues to this day.”
“Face recognition is the perfect tool for suppression”, wrote Woodrow Hartzog, Professor of Law and Computer Science at Northeastern University; and Evan Selinger, Philosopher at the Rochester Institute of Technology. It is, they convincingly argued, “the most unique, dangerous surveillance mechanism ever invented”.
“Face recognition is like nuclear or biological weapons. It poses such a threat to the future of human society that all possible benefits are outweighed by the inevitable harm.” claimed Caitlin Seeley George, director of campaigns and operations for the Fight for the Future data protection group, in a statement in support of the bill. “This inherently oppressive technology cannot be reformed or regulated. It should be abolished. “
The bill tabled in Congress would prohibit real-time biometric surveillance, including facial recognition and remote surveillance with voice, gait, and other immutable personal characteristics, by the federal government without express legal approval. In addition, Congress would withhold federal public safety grants from state and local governments involved in biometric surveillance. The ban does not include fingerprint identification.
The moratorium on federal biometric surveillance would last until Congress passed law setting standards for minimum accuracy rates and accuracy rates based on gender, skin color, and age, along with tough protections for due process, privacy, freedom of expression, and transparent rules, among other things for data retention, sharing, access and audit trails.