Feds would be banned from using facial recognition under new bill

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On Thursday, Democrats launched a brand new invoice that may ban federal regulation enforcement from utilizing facial recognition expertise and make it harder for state and native police departments to make use of the tech.

The Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act of 2020, launched by Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) on Thursday, would ban federal companies from utilizing facial recognition expertise and power state and native police departments to enact comparable insurance policies with the intention to obtain federal grants. The invoice would successfully prohibit the tech’s use till Congress passes a regulation explicitly permitting it.

“Facial recognition technology doesn’t just pose a grave threat to our privacy, it physically endangers Black Americans and other minority populations in our country,” stated Sen. Markey. “As we work to dismantle the systematic racism that permeates every part of our society, we can’t ignore the harms that these technologies present.”

The invoice comes amid widespread protests in opposition to police violence and rising controversy round facial recognition methods. On Wednesday, Boston voted to ban the use of facial recognition within the metropolis, changing into the second-largest municipality on the earth to take action. Boston’s metropolis council voted Wednesday to ban the tech with a veto-proof majority. California, New Hampshire, and Oregon all ban the usage of the expertise in police body cameras, and Oakland and San Francisco have banned its use by metropolis companies.

The expertise can be dealing with new authorized challenges. Earlier this week, the American Civil Liberties Union in Michigan filed an administrative complaint with Detroit’s police division over what could possibly be the US’s first identified wrongful arrest involving facial recognition expertise. According to the ACLU’s grievance, Detroit regulation enforcement believed that a man named Robert Williams stole a number of watches from an area retailer final January after following a lead offered via facial recognition. Williams was arrested exterior of his residence in January and spent over 30 hours in a detention middle exterior of Detroit.

The new invoice would additionally immediately goal one of many federal applications that dole out tens of millions of {dollars} to state and native regulation enforcement and corrections applications throughout the nation, generally known as the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program. The Byrne grant program made $264 million accessible to state police departments final yr, according to the program’s website.

While help in Congress continues to be muted, the proposal could be an enormous win for privateness advocates who, for years, have urged warning in the usage of biometric identification methods. “Facial recognition is like nuclear or biological weapons. It poses such a threat to the future of human society that any potential benefits are outweighed by the inevitable harms,” Evan Greer, deputy director for Fight for the Future, stated in a press release Thursday. “This inherently oppressive technology cannot be reformed or regulated. It should be abolished.”