Senators Ed Markey and Jeff Merkley have introduced legislation that would ban federal law enforcement agencies from using facial recognition.
In the wake of several high-profile incidents that have helped spark protests and a renewed focus on racial equality, facial recognition has come under heavy fire. While having some usefulness, facial recognition struggles with bias issues, especially related to race, ethnicity and sex. This doesn’t even begin to address the privacy issues the technology raises. Clearview AI is one company that has increasingly been in the news for blatant abuses of privacy through the use of facial recognition.
The Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act, would address these concerns by prohibiting federal law enforcement agencies from using facial recognition tech. In addition, any local or state agencies seeking federal funding would be required to take similar measures.
“Facial recognition technology doesn’t just pose a grave threat to our privacy, it physically endangers Black Americans and other minority populations in our country,” said Senator Markey. “As we work to dismantle the systematic racism that permeates every part of our society, we can’t ignore the harms that these technologies present. I’ve spent years pushing back against the proliferation of facial recognition surveillance systems because the implications for our civil liberties are chilling and the disproportionate burden on communities of color is unacceptable. In this moment, the only responsible thing to do is to prohibit government and law enforcement from using these surveillance mechanisms. I thank Representatives Jayapal and Pressley and Senator Merkley for working with me on this critical legislation.”
It’s unknown whether the bill will be able to gain enough support to pass. Should it succeed, however, it could fundamentally alter the privacy debate and have a profound impact on equality.