Now Is The Time: Tell Congress to Ban Federal Use of Face Recognition

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Now Is The Time: Tell Congress to Ban Federal Use of Face Recognition

Cities and states across the country have banned government use of face surveillance technology, and many more are weighing proposals to do so. From Boston to San Francisco, New Orleans to Minneapolis, elected officials and activists know that face surveillance gives police the power to track us wherever we go, disproportionately impacts people of color, turns us all into perpetual suspects, increases the likelihood of being falsely arrested, and chills people’s willingness to participate in first amendment protected activities. Even Amazon, known for operating one of the largest video surveillance networks in the history of the world, extended its moratorium on selling face recognition to police.


Now, Congress must do its part. We’ve created a campaign that will easily allow you to contact your elected federal officials and tell them to co-sponsor the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act.

Take action

TELL congress: END federal use of face surveillance

Police and other government use of this technology cannot be responsibly regulated. Face surveillance in the hands of the government is a fundamentally harmful technology, even under strict regulations or if the technology was 100% accurate. 

Face surveillance also disproportionately hurts vulnerable communities. Last year, the New York Times published a long piece on the case of Robert Julian-Borchak Williams, who was arrested by Detroit police after face recognition technology wrongly identified him as a suspect in a theft case.  The ACLU filed a lawsuit on his behalf against the Detroit police. 

The problem isn’t just that studies have found face recognition disparately inaccurate when it comes to matching the faces of people of color. The larger concern is that law enforcement will use this invasive and dangerous technology, as it unfortunately uses all such tools, to disparately surveil people of color. 

Williams and two other Black men (Michael Oliver and Nijeer Parks)  have garnered the attention of national media after face recognition technology led to them being falsely arrested by police. How many more have already endured the same injustices without the media’s spotlight? These incidents show another reason why police cannot be trusted with this technology: a piece of software intended to identify investigative leads is often used in the field to determine who should be arrested without independent officer vetting.

This federal ban on face surveillance would apply to increasingly powerful agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Customs and Border Patrol. The bill would ensure that these agencies cannot use this invasive technology to track, identify, and misidentify millions of people.

Tell your Senators and Representatives they must co-sponsor and pass the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act. It was recently introduced by Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and by Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), and Rashida Tlaib (MI-13).

This important bill would be a critical step to ensuring that mass surveillance systems don’t use your face to track, identify, or harm you. The bill would ban the use of face surveillance by the federal government, as well as withhold certain federal funds from local and state governments that use the technology.  That’s why we’re asking you to insist your elected officials co-sponsor the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act, S.2052 in the Senate.

Take action

TELL congress: END federal use of face surveillance

Published June 24, 2021 at 08:48PM
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