Two senators have introduced a bill to temporarily ban facial recognition technology for government use.
The proposed bill (PDF) comes in the wake of revelations that law enforcement agencies across the country have been using Clearview AI’s software. The company claims to have a database of billions of photos it has scraped from millions of websites, including the most popular social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Those companies, along with Google, have sent cease-and-desist letters to the facial recognition firm, demanding it stop scraping their sites and delete any photos it has already acquired. The New Jersey Attorney General even got in on the action, ordering police in the state to stop using the software when he was made aware of it.
Now Senators Jeff Merkley (Oregon) and Cory Booker (New Jersey) are calling for a “moratorium on the government use of facial recognition technology until a Commission recommends the appropriate guidelines and limitation for use of facial recognition technology.”
The bill goes on to acknowledge the technology is being marketed to law enforcement agencies, but often disproportionately impacts “communities of color, activists, immigrants, and other groups that are often already unjustly targeted.”
The bill also makes the point that the congressional Commission would need to create guidelines and limitations that would ensure there is not a constant state of surveillance of individuals that destroys a reasonable level of anonymity.
Given the backlash and outcry against the Clearview AI revelations, it’s a safe bet the bill will likely pass.