40+ Rights Groups Urge Biden To Halt Federal Use Of ‘Dangerous’ Facial Recognition Technology – Progressive Party USA

40+ Rights Groups Urge Biden To Halt Federal Use Of ‘Dangerous’ Facial Recognition Technology – Progressive Party USA

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A display shows a facial recognition system for law enforcement during a conference in Washington, D.C. on November 1, 2017. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images) A coalition of more than 40 advocacy groups is calling on President Joe Biden to take executive action imposing a moratorium on U.S. government use of facial recognition and other biometric technology, block state and local governments from using federal funds for such tools, and support related legislation introduced in Congress last year.

The organizations—including the ACLU, Access Now, Amnesty International USA, Center for Constitutional Rights, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, Free Press Action, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights—sent Biden a lengthy letter Tuesday laying out how the use facial recognition technology (FRT) “in policing, public housing, schools, and other areas of public life poses profound and unprecedented threats to core civil rights and civil liberties.”

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“Facial recognition technology is a threat to civil rights and civil liberties when it works, and when it doesn’t. It disproportionately misidentifies people of color, women, trans people, and other marginalized groups, but its ability to track our movements across space and time would be dangerous even if it worked perfectly,” said Kate Ruane, senior legislative counsel for the ACLU, in a statement Wednesday. Facial recognition is biased against POC, women, and more, and even if it worked as designed, it would be a surveillance nightmare. In keeping with his commitment to racial equity and civil liberties, @POTUS must take action. Read the letter from 40+ orgs: https://t.co/IutPsnrTHj pic.twitter.com/RjTh6z2tIS — Open Tech Institute (@OTI) February 17, 2021 “Multiple Black men have been arrested and incarcerated for crimes they didn’t commit after facial recognition technology falsely identified them, and its use will continue to disproportionately harm marginalized communities, especially Black and Brown people,” Ruane added. “In keeping with President Biden’s commitment to racial equity, he must immediately take this important first step.”

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The letter notes that study after study has shown facial recognition technology “exhibits particularly disturbing accuracy and bias issues against people with darker skin, LGBTQ people, women—especially women of color—and youth.” It also highlights the impact of such flaws by pointing to some specific stories of people who have been harmed by misidentification.

For example, in January 2020, Robert Williams, a Black man, was wrongfully arrested on his front lawn while his wife and young daughters watched, then detained for nearly 30 hours, after software owned by Michigan State Police misidentified him as a shoplifting suspect. Williams, who lives outside of Detroit, has since spoken out against police using FRT. These biases have real consequences that disproportionately harm Black people. Robert Williams, Michael Oliver, and Nijeer Parks are all Black men who were wrongly arrested and detained because of this technology. https://t.co/lYu1Mgvm05 — ACLU (@ACLU) February 17, 2021 Stories like Williams’ have fueled calls for barring law enforcement at all levels from using such tools. While noting with alarm that “the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies have been using FRT for years and without explicit authorization or guidance from Congress,” the letter also makes clear that government use of the tech is far more sweeping.

“FRT is extraordinarily dangerous to core freedoms even when it works exactly as advertised,” the groups warn. “Never before has the government possessed a technology that purportedly enables it to keep a running record of every person’s every public movement, habit, and association—until now.”

“If the government can track everyone who goes to a place of worship, attends a political rally, or seeks healthcare for reproductive health or substance use,” the letter says, “we lose our freedom to speak […]

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Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since The Revival of the Progressive Party (1912 | 2018), with enormously high stakes and so much passion.

In Our Movement” we unveil the reality we are all facing and how we rise to the challenge. — If you’re able to, this is a critical moment to propel the Progressive Party to new heights: Help cover the vital political projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

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