Skip to main content Facial recognition technology is a direct assault on privacy and civil liberties

The ACLU of New Jersey is among a coalition of other organizations that signed an article on detailing their opinion on why facial recognition technology poses a direct threat to the civil liberties and privacy of American citizens. The use of facial recognition software produced by various different companies has grown pervasive in law enforcement agencies across the country, and has enormous potential for abuse in surveillance. On top of this, its use in overpoliced Black and Brown communities, says the article, combined with the proven inaccuracy of such technology for these communities can lead to numerous life-upending false arrests.

The article argues that facial recognition offers no specific solution to any existing problem, instead raising several key societal issues, the first of which is that the companies profiting off of its use have no accountability for the quality of their product. After they sell technology that has proven to be spotty in the past to major law enforcement agencies, these companies face little to no oversight and offer no protection to the citizens that may suffer at their product’s hand. Secondly, mass surveillance becomes more and more of a reality as this technology falls into the hands of law enforcement, having even been used to criminalize protest in the past when a BLM protester accused of assault was tracked down and falsely arrested using facial recognition software. This technology can be used to surveil the every move of American citizens and practically persecute them based on the political agenda of those in charge. Finally, already overpoliced Black and Brown communities will face lower accuracy in identification by these technologies (a condition arose by the lack of diverse faces in training databases and arrest statistics biased by prejudice in policing). Facial recognition technology can only intensify the racial disparity in the prison population and over policing of these communities.

The article concludes by urging the state of New Jersey to ban the use of facial recognition in law enforcement, signed by various activist organizations in the state.

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