10 Federal Agencies Plan to Greatly Expand Reliance on Facial Recognition Surveillance, Critics Outraged

10-federal-agencies-plan-to-greatly-expand-reliance-on-facial-recognition-surveillance,-critics-outraged

27-08-21 04:48:00,

Digital rights advocates reacted harshly Thursday to a new internal U.S. government report detailing how 10 federal agencies have plans to greatly expand their reliance on facial recognition in the years ahead.

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Digital rights advocates reacted harshly Thursday to a new internal U.S. government report detailing how 10 federal agencies have plans to greatly expand their reliance on facial recognition in the years ahead.

The Government Accountability Office surveyed federal agencies and found 10 have specific plans to increase their use of the technology by 2023 — surveilling people for numerous reasons including to identify criminal suspects, track government employees’ level of alertness, and match faces of people on government property with names on watch lists.

The report was released as lawmakers face pressure to pass legislation to limit the use of facial recognition technology by the government and law enforcement agencies.

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rand Paul (D-Ky.) introduced the Fourth Amendment Is Not for Sale Act in April to prevent agencies from using “illegitimately obtained” biometric data, such as photos from the software company Clearview AI. The company has scraped billions of photos from social media platforms without approval and is currently used by hundreds of police departments across the U.S.

The bill has not received a vote in either chamber of Congress yet.

The plans described in the GAO report, tweeted law professor Andrew Ferguson, author of “The Rise of Big Data Policing,” are “what happens when Congress fails to act.”

New GAO report on #FacialRecognition shows what happens when Congress fails to act. Train is rolling down the tracks folks… I don’t see federal brakes. #surveillance https://t.co/8A8w8MTBf0

— Andrew G. Ferguson (@ProfFerguson) August 26, 2021

Six agencies including the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS), Justice (DOJ), Defense (DOD), Health and Human Services (HHS), Interior and Treasury plan to expand their use of facial recognition technology to “generate leads in criminal investigations, such as identifying a person of interest, by comparing their image against mugshots,” the GAO reported.

DHS, DOJ, HHS and the Interior all reported using Clearview AI to compare images with “publicly available images” from social media.

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The DOJ, DOD, HHS, Department of Commerce, and Department of Energy said they plan to use the technology to maintain what the report calls “physical security,” by monitoring their facilities to determine if an individual on a government watchlist is present.

“For example, HHS reported that it used [a facial recognition technology] system (AnyVision) to monitor its facilities by searching live camera feeds in real-time for individuals on watchlists or suspected of criminal activity, which reduces the need for security guards to memorize these individuals’ faces,” the report reads. “This system automatically alerts personnel when an individual on a watchlist is present.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation said the government’s expanded use of the technology for law enforcement purposes is one of the “most disturbing” aspects of the GAO report.

“Face surveillance is so invasive of privacy, so discriminatory against people of color,

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