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For Immediate Release

Press Release

Facial Recognition Is Doing Harm Right Now. It’s Unacceptable for Lawmakers To Do Anything Other Than Ban It.

WASHINGTON -

The House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing today on facial recognition technology. They’re expected to discuss a wide range of issues including the recent GAO report on federal government use of facial recognition and the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act.

Below is a statement from Fight for the Future, which can be attributed to Director, Evan Greer (she/her):

Facial recognition has already gotten innocent people arrested and jailed. How long before it gets someone killed? Law enforcement and government agencies are using this uniquely dangerous biometric surveillance technology on millions of people right now. We don’t have time to debate about “regulatory standards” that will ultimately fail to reduce the harm of this fundamentally discriminatory technology. Lawmakers need to do their jobs right now and pass the Biometric Technology Moratorium Act, a simple bill that would put an immediate stop to the use of this Orwellian technology, giving us time to have real conversations about the role of artificial intelligence and biometric technologies in our society.

Any lawmaker who refuses to support a moratorium on police use of facial recognition is actively enabling racism and discrimination in policing, and allowing law enforcement to continue using this technology to target people who are engaged in First Amendment protected protest activities. Facial recognition surveillance is more like nuclear or biological weapons than it is like alcohol and cigarettes. It’s too dangerous to be effectively regulated. We need to simply prohibit its use.

The GAO report confirmed what we already know—that law enforcement and government agencies are using facial recognition technology on millions of people across the U.S. But we also know that certain communities are being targeted by the technology and harmed more than others—at least three Black men have been misidentified by facial recognition and arrested for crimes they didn’t commit. People crossing the border are being forced to give up their biometric information and to be under constant surveillance. Six federal agencies, as well as local police, have used facial recognition to identify people protesting racist policing and the murder of George Floyd.

We will be on the lookout for lawmakers who are regurgitating talking points from Big Tech companies, surveillance vendors, and law enforcement agencies. Specifically, it’s unacceptable for Democrats to point to the use of facial recognition on the Capitol rioters as an excuse to not support a moratorium on a technology that is disproportionately harming the very same communities that those who stormed the Capitol were trying to disenfranchise. I wrote more about this in a piece for FastCompany back in January.

You can’t fight racism and authoritarianism with racist and authoritarian surveillance technology. We reiterate our call for an outright ban on both government and private use of facial recognition surveillance.

###

Fight for the Future is a group of artists, engineers, activists, and technologists who have been behind the largest online protests in human history, channeling Internet outrage into political power to win public interest victories previously thought to be impossible. We fight for a future where technology liberates — not oppresses — us.

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