Yet another example of misuse of facial recognition highlights that passing federal legislation to ban this dangerous surveillance technology is the only way to truly protect against its inherent harms.
After Buzzfeed news exposed that more than 25 Los Angeles Police Department employees performed nearly 500 facial recognition searches using the notorious Clearview AI, the department has banned the use of third-party facial recognition software, showing just how politically toxic this technology has become. However, the department continues to permit the use of the technology through its Los Angeles County Regional Identification System, and more than 2,400 police agencies have been found to use Clearview.
"This is exactly why we need lawmakers to get off their butts, do their jobs, and pass legislation to ban facial recognition now," said Caitlin Seeley George (she/her), Campaign Director with the digital rights group Fight for the Future. "How many other police departments across the country have officers who are using this dangerous, biased, technology without even telling their superiors? The real solution is to pass federal legislation that will stop all law enforcement from using Clearview and any other facial recognition systems, and we need the incoming Biden/Harris administration to do everything in their power to stop the use of this technology."
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. The group launched an effort in the spring to keep facial recognition off of college campuses, and got more than 60 schools to commit to not using the tech. The group is also providing support for activists on the ground pushing for bans at the local level, including Portland, Oregon’s recent bans against government and private use of facial recognition.