TELL congress: END federal use of face surveillanceThree companies—IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft—have recently ended or suspended sales of face recognition to police departments, acknowledging the harms that this technology causes. 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. Congress, states, and cities should take this momentary reprieve, during which police will not be able to acquire new face surveillance technology from these companies, as an opportunity to ban government use of the technology once and for all.
Face surveillance disproportionately hurts vulnerable communities. Recently the New York Timespublished 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 complaint on his behalf with the Detroit police. The problem isn’t just that studies have found face recognition highly 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. This federal ban on face surveillance would apply to opaque and 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 of 2020, introduced by Senators Markey and Markley and Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Pramila Jayapal, Rashda Talib, and Yvette Clarke. This bill would be a critical step to ensuring that mass surveillance systems don’t use your face to track, identify, or incriminate you. The bill would ban the use of face surveillance by the federal government, as well as withhold certain federal funding streams from local and state governments that use the technology. That’s why we’re asking you to insist your elected officials co-sponsor and vote “Yes” on the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act of 2020, S.4084 in the Senate.
Massachusetts residents: tell your legislature to press pause on government use of face surveillance throughout the Commonwealth.The city council of Somerville, Massachusetts voted unanimously in July to ban government face surveillance altogether, becoming the first community on the East coast to do so.
TELL congress: END federal use of face surveillance