Severeal U.S. senators on Wednesday pressed Trump administration officials to end federal law enforcement’s weaponizing of facial recognition technology against peaceful protesters exercising their First Amendment rights to speak out about the police killing of George Floyd and other black Americans.
In a letter with U.S. Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to Attorney General William Barr and Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf, Senator Wyden noted how facial recognition such as Clearview AI can be misused to target people of color, and worsen racial bias in law enforcement practices.
“Advances in facial recognition technologies should not be weaponized to victimize Americans across the nation who are standing up for change,” the senators wrote Barr and Wolf.
“It is no secret that Clearview AI’s controversial facial recognition tool is used by law enforcement throughout your departments despite the numerous legal challenges it faces. However, scientific studies have repeatedly shown that facial recognition algorithms are significantly less accurate for people with non-white skin tones.
“The federal government’s use of technology to identify each individual at a demonstration en masse has a chilling effect on all of our protected First Amendment activities,” Wyden, Booker and Brown wrote.
“Identifying Americans who are peacefully demonstrating using existing facial recognition technology is particularly dangerous because this information would be of dubious accuracy and could be stolen or otherwise leaked. The Black Lives Matter movement was unjustly surveilled by law enforcement in 2014 and additional actions against those protesting systemic racism would infringe on their First Amendment rights and further divide the country.”