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New York MTA sued over alleged use of biometric surveillance tech in subway

New York MTA sued over alleged use of biometric surveillance tech in subway

New York privacy watchdog the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP) filed a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) on Monday for the release of records relating to the alleged deployment of biometric facial recognition technology at a crowded subway station in Manhattan, writes Daily News New York.

STOP filed the lawsuit, calling for public record release of records regarding facial recognition use at the Times Square–42nd Street/Port Authority Bus Terminal station. This measure comes after the organization filed a Freedom of Information Law request in April after a photo appeared on Twitter of an alleged “recording in progress” of people at the station with yellow squares on their faces.

In the photo, the name of security company Wisenet appeared, a company known for its facial recognition cameras. Wisenet did not comment.

“New Yorkers deserve to know if the MTA is using invasive new spy tools,” said Albert Fox Cahn, the executive director of STOP. “More than eight months ago, we submitted a straightforward request, but since then we’ve received nothing but evasion and stonewalling. If the MTA was telling New Yorkers the truth about their facial recognition systems, then why has it taken nearly a year to get the documents that prove it?”

Although in April 2019 the MTA had stated that the technology was fake and was there only to prevent fare evasion, in June officials with New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced they were looking into installing security cameras, possibly with facial recognition capabilities, throughout the transit system to catch criminals.

“There is absolutely no facial recognition component to these cameras, no facial recognition software, or anything else that could be used to automatically identify people in any way, and we have no plans to add facial recognition software to these cameras in the future. Beyond that, it’s our policy not to comment on pending litigation,” MTA spokesman Shams Tarek said in a statement.

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