Planned Expansion of Facial Recognition by US Agencies Called “Disturbing”
By Julia Conley
Digital rights advocates reacted harshly Thursday to a new internal U.S. government report detailing how ten federal agencies have plans to greatly expand their reliance on facial recognition in the years ahead.
The Government Accountability Office surveyed federal agencies and found ten have specific plans to increase their use of the technology by 2023—surveilling people for numerous reasons including to identify criminal suspects, track government employees’ level of alertness, and match faces of people on government property with names on watch lists.
The report (pdf) was released as lawmakers face pressure to pass legislation to limit the use of facial recognition technology by the government and law enforcement agencies.
Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rand Paul (D-Ky.) introduced the Fourth Amendment Is Not for Sale Act in April to prevent agencies from using “illegitimately obtained” biometric data, such as photos from the software company Clearview AI. The company has scraped billions of photos from social media platforms without approval and is currently used by hundreds of police departments across the United States.
The bill has not received a vote in either chamber of Congress yet.
The plans described in the GAO report, tweeted law professor Andrew Ferguson, author of “The Rise of Big Data Policing,” are “what happens when Congress fails to act.”