Feds plan expanded use of facial recognition technology
According to a new report from the Government Accountability Office, federal agencies intend to expand their use of facial recognition technology (FRT), despite concerns over privacy, false positives, and that whole “Big Brother” thing:
Digital access or cybersecurity. Sixteen agencies reported using FRT for digital access or cybersecurity purposes. Of these, 14 agencies authorized personnel to use FRT to unlock their agency-issued smartphones—the most common purpose of FRT reported. Two agencies also reported testing FRT to verify identities of persons accessing government websites.
Domestic law enforcement. Six agencies reported using FRT to generate leads in criminal investigations, such as identifying a person of interest, by comparing their image against mugshots. In some cases, agencies identify crime victims, such as exploited children, by using commercial systems that compare against publicly available images, such as from social media.
Physical security. Five agencies reported using FRT to monitor or surveil locations to determine if an individual is present, such as someone on a watchlist, or to control access to a building or facility. For example, an agency used it to monitor live video for persons on watchlists and to alert security personnel to these persons without needing to memorize them.
The pushback on this tech is coming from states and localities – plus some members of Congress:
Three states — Virginia, Massachusetts and Maine — and more than a dozen cities, including Boston, Portland and San Francisco, have banned or restricted the technology’s use by public officials or police.
Representatives from both parties voiced concerns about the technology during a House Judiciary Committee hearing last month. And Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in April introduced a bill that would ban the government from using facial recognition systems that relied on data that had been “illegitimately obtained.”
That bill – called the Fourth Amendment Is Not for Sale Act would stop the government “from purchasing information it would otherwise need a warrant to acquire.”