Washington (February 9, 2022) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) today sent letters to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Interior (DOI), and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), urging the agencies to end their use of Clearview AI’s facial recognition technology. In their letters, the lawmakers voiced serious concerns about this technology’s ability to eliminate public anonymity and highlighted that this technology poses unique threats to Black communities, communities of color, and immigrant communities.
In August 2021, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report identifying federal entities that have used facial recognition tools, including Clearview AI’s technology. Clearview AI’s tools reportedly allow users to capture and upload photos of strangers, analyze the photographed individual’s biometric information, and provide users with existing images and personal information of the photographed individuals found online. These and other facial recognition technologies pose unique threats to members of vulnerable communities, who are disproportionately likely to be misidentified and are systematically subjected to over-policing and increased surveillance.
“Facial recognition tools pose a serious threat to the public’s civil liberties and privacy rights, and Clearview AI’s product is particularly dangerous. We urge you to immediately stop the Department’s use of facial recognition technology, including Clearview AI’s tools,” the lawmakers wrote in their letters.
“Facial recognition technology like Clearview’s poses unique threats to marginalized communities in ways that extend beyond the tools’ inaccuracy issues,” continued the lawmakers. “Communities of color are systematically subjected to over-policing, and the proliferation of biometric surveillance tools is, therefore, likely to disproportionately infringe upon the privacy of individuals in Black, Brown, and immigrant communities.”
The letters to federal agencies can be found HERE.
In June 2021, Senators Markey and Merkley and Representatives Jayapal and Pressley reintroduced bicameral legislation to stop government use of biometric technology, including facial recognition tools. The Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act responds to reports that hundreds of local, state, and federal entities, including law enforcement agencies, have used unregulated facial recognition technologies and research showing that that roughly half of U.S. adults are already in facial recognition databases.