Government use of face surveillance technology chills free speech, threatens residents’ privacy, and amplifies historical bias in our criminal system.
From San Francisco, California to Somerville, Massachusetts, communities are coming together to demand an about-face on the proliferation of government use of this especially pernicious form of surveillance and biometric data collection.
Use of face surveillance by law enforcement and other government agencies invades Fourth Amendment freedoms of privacy and chills First Amendment freedoms of speech and association.
Face surveillance technology has already been used to target individuals engaged in First Amendment-protected activity. And the threat of this especially pernicious form of surveillance extends far beyond political rallies. Images captured outside houses of worship, medical facilities, schools, community centers, and homes would reveal familial, political, religious, and sexual partnerships.
Data theft is another threat. Digital security professionals regularly warn that it’s not a matter of if a given system will be breached, but when. Government agencies have a notorious history of failing to adequately secure from theft the sensitive personal information and biometric data that government stockpiles. Unlike a driver’s license or social security number, when a breach occurs, our faces can not be reissued.