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Restrictions on police use of facial recognition proposed in US Congress

Restrictions on police use of facial recognition proposed in US Congress

There is more legislative action in the U.S. on facial recognition technology, as four members of Congress yesterday introduced the Facial Recognition Act, which would require police to obtain a warrant and have probable cause to investigate a suspect before conducting face biometric searches.

“Protecting the privacy of Americans – especially against a flawed, unregulated, and at times discriminatory technology – is my chief goal with this legislation,” said Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA), who joined Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY), and Congressman Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) in bringing forth the Facial Recognition Act.

According to a supporting statement from the Electronic Privacy Information Centre (EPIC), the legislation would also prohibit the use of face biometrics in the enforcement of immigration laws, on police body cameras, during protests, and on live video feeds. Furthermore, it would introduce transparency and reliability requirements, to be monitored via public audits, accuracy reviews and other measures. And, adds TechCrunch, it would make it mandatory for law enforcement agencies to purge photo databases of kids who never faced charges, or were acquitted.

“There is no question that, in its current state, facial recognition is a flawed and harmful technology,” said Congresswoman Clark, in a statement posted online. “We have long passed the theoretical when it comes to its struggles identifying and misidentifying women and people of color and, consequently, the real-world implications of its deficiencies are confronting real people every day. While these shortcomings are disastrous in the private sector, in law enforcement, they are entirely unacceptable.”

Facial recognition continues to cause waves around the globe, with recent instances in Australia, China, the UK and Norway of pushback against what some call a tool for repressive surveillance.

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