Ban Facial Recognition activists launch congressional “scorecard” to name and shame lawmakers who have not endorsed legislation to stop face surveillance

Posted July 22, 2020, 4:29 PM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: RELEASE, July 22, 2020

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So far 15 lawmakers in the House and Senate have endorsed the bill, which is supported by a growing coalition of advocacy groups with a combined 15 million members

Fight for the Future and the coalition of 41 prominent grassroots organizations behind the BanFacialRecognition.com coalition have launched a new "Congressional Scorecard" publicly tracking which members of the House and Senate have co-sponsored Federal legislation to stop law enforcement use of biometric surveillance, and which ones haven’t. 

See the new scorecard at https://www.banfacialrecognition.com/scoreboard

The Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act of 2020 would effectively ban all law enforcement use of facial recognition in the United States, something that researchers, civil rights experts, and grassroots organizations from across the political spectrum have called for. The legislation was originally introduced by Senators Markey and Merkley and House Reps Pressley and Jayapal. So far a total of 15 lawmakers in the House and Senate have co-sponsored the legislation, including Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Ron Wyden and House members Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Yvette Clark, Anna Eshoo, and Bobby Rush.

"This is a declaration of war. We are going to ban facial recognition and you are either with us or against us. Lawmakers can’t claim to care about civil liberties, freedom, democracy, racial justice, or human rights if they aren’t supporting this common sense legislation to stop the use of biased and invasive surveillance technology that’s as dangerous as nuclear or biological weapons," said Evan Greer (she/her), deputy director of Fight for the Future. "We won’t let politicians hide. We know they remember us from SOPA/PIPA and net neutrality. Get on the right side of history or get out of office."

Since last year, Fight for the Future has been leading a national campaign backed by dozens of other grassroots organizations calling for an outright ban on law enforcement and government use of facial recognition. In February, the group expanded its efforts to explicitly call for lawmakers to also ban private individuals, institutions, and corporations from using this technology in public places, for surveillance purposes, or without the subjects’ knowledge and affirmative consent, such as unlocking a phone. Even seemingly innocuous uses of facial recognition, like speeding up lines or using your face as a form of payment, normalize the act of handing over sensitive biometric information and pose a serious threat to security and civil liberties. The group is also providing support for activists on the ground pushing for bans at the local level. Boston just became the largest city on the east coast to ban government use of facial recognition. Detroit City Council is expected to vote soon on whether to renew their police department’s contract with a facial recognition vendor. 

Fight for the Future worked with Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and other artists to lead a successful campaign to keep facial recognition technology out of US music festivals and live concerts. More than 40 of the worlds’ largest festivals including Coachella, Bonnaroo, and SXSW confirmed they won’t use the tech at their events. The group then worked with Students for a Sensible Drug Policy to get more than 60 prominent colleges and universities to confirm they won’t use facial recognition on campus. 150+ university faculty issued an open letter echoing student demands to ban the use of face surveillance on college campuses. Students across the country held a national day of action in March.

The group has deployed similar legislative scorecards in the past, including the BattleForTheNet.com scorecard for net neutrality, which helped get more lawmakers on the record on the issue than ever before in history. 

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