Computers

ACLU sues US gov calling for transparency over facial recognition tech

ACLU sues US gov calling for t...
The ACLU claims several US government agencies are ignoring legal freedom of information requests
The ACLU claims several US government agencies are ignoring legal freedom of information requests
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The ACLU claims several US government agencies are ignoring legal freedom of information requests
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The ACLU claims several US government agencies are ignoring legal freedom of information requests

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is taking several US government agencies to court claiming they have refused to comply with freedom of information requests related to the transparency of law enforcement usage of facial recognition technology.

The lawsuit claims in January 2019 the ACLU submitted a freedom of information (FOI) request to three US government agencies, the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The FOI request pressed those agencies to supply all records outlining how, where and when facial recognition technologies had been utilized.

“Production of these records is important to assist the public in understanding the government’s use of highly invasive biometric identification and tracking technologies,” the ACLU states in the court lodgment. “These 2 technologies have the potential to enable undetectable, persistent, and suspicionless surveillance on an unprecedented scale. Such surveillance would permit the government to pervasively track people’s movements and associations in ways that threaten core constitutional values.”

As described in the complaint, the ACLU received acknowledgment of the FOI request from both the FBI and DEA within weeks of the initial submission. However, the last correspondence to the ACLU on the matter was a notification from the DEA on April 12, 2019, stating, “your request has been assigned and is being handled as expeditiously as possible.” Since then, the ACLU heard absolutely nothing from any of the agencies, suggesting they were not planning on responding to the legal request in violation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

In a statement accompanying the complaint, director of the Technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts Kade Crockford says that what we already know about FBI uses of facial recognition technology, from public reporting and admissions to Congress, is already concerning.

“And when that agency stonewalls our requests for information about how its agents are tracking and monitoring our faces, we should all be concerned,” writes Crockford. “That’s why today we’re asking a federal court to intervene and order the FBI and related agencies to turn over all records concerning their use of face recognition technology.”

Concerns are growing globally over the increasing use of facial recognition technology. Several US cities and states have recently rolled out bans of the technology, while an ongoing battle in UK courts is challenging law enforcement uses of facial recognition in public spaces.

Source: ACLU

5 comments
FB36
IMHO, Facial Recognition is immensely beneficial for law enforcement & common good of general public! Imagine a future world where/when law enforcement can quickly find & catch any wanted criminals! Imagine a future world where/when criminals can no longer walk or drive around @ public places/streets! Would not these be immensely beneficial for law enforcement & common good of general public? Facial Recognition tech can also be used for ticketless public transportation & shopping etc, w/o needing to carry money or card etc. Also, Facial Recognition tech is bad/evil, just because, it can do the same job, better (cheaper & more accurately & immensely faster) than any law enforcement people can? What about privacy? IMHO, general public is not really obsessed about privacy, unlike self-appointed "privacy advocates" (like ACLU & EFF) always claim/pretend! IMHO, the only people who are always really obsessed about "privacy" are criminals & their tireless supporters (like ACLU & EFF)!
RJ
Of course we all want violent criminals caught and taken off the streets. AND we also want to keep our freedom to own our own lives. We must all remember that We The People are the bosses of the government. They work for us. Not surprisingly, though (because they are human, too) we have to work to keep our collective authority over the government. When they take personal information from us, they need to tell us. And we need to make sure they have checks in place to they don't abuse the authority given to them. When the government does not comply with transparency laws and FOIA requests, they are refusing to cooperate with the system we the people have put in place. Transparency in our government is important because of how much power they have. Government has enormous power. Individually, we have very little power. To balance the two - to make things fair - the powerful have a great degree of transparency and the unpowerful have a great degree of privacy. Privacy is freedom. And this applies not just to the government, but to any large powerful entity, like large corporations. If they are going to hoover up info about us, they need to provide extreme transparency in what they are hoovering and how they are using it. Are we a citizenry who will look out for each other and hold the powerful accountable, or are we a serfdom to be exploited?
wahip
The fact is that the general public cares much less about their public safety than they do public privacy. Another embarrassing fact is that the government entrusted with protecting Americans from cyberattacks has itself been penetrated repeatedly, including in the most sensitive agencies and departments.The point is that all abuses of civil liberty start with the best intentions, but retain the possibility for covert manipulation by narcissistic leaders of power hungry agencies. There are many cheap methods employed to defeat the FR software. Two of the easiest are sunglasses with LED lights positioned at the edge to "blind or blur" the image captured. Another is a mirrored film applied to a visor shield. I used this as a social experiment for my psych students and told anyone who stopped to ask me that, " I want you to see me as a reflection of yourself and know I am just like you in many ways, before you judge me otherwise by my appearance". I once had a puzzled TSA agent just shake his head and waive me through. I'll leave you with a quote from Mr. Snowden: "When you say, ‘I don’t care about the right to privacy because I have nothing to hide,’ that is no different than saying, ‘I don’t care about freedom of speech because I have nothing to say -- or freedom of the press because I have nothing to write."
aksdad
What nefarious purpose does the ACLU imagine law enforcement will use it for? Catching criminals? They still must have probable cause and/or a warrant to arrest them, read them their rights, then prove beyond reasonable doubt in court that they committed the crimes; a process limited by the Constitution. Let's make it easier to put criminals in prison, not harder.
guzmanchinky
The government works for me. And I want them to take criminals off the streets. Go ahead, scan my face, I'm boring and not a criminal. If you come up with a false positive, have a cop talk to me, look at my ID, and then send me on my merry way.