Facial recognition technology has been used from crime identification to tax authentication. In recent years, the technology has been smacked with heavy backlash from governmental bodies like the European Union. This backlash has now been backed by the United States’ Democrats, adding another world power to fight against the tech.
Why are the Democrats fighting facial recognition?
Reported by Common Dreams, a collective of Democrats are urging federal agencies to cut ties with facial recognition companies. Specifically, the group is fighting against Clearview AI, a long controversial figure in the facial recognition space.
Clearview AI is built upon a massive database of over 10 billion pictures. The company takes these images from “from public-only web sources, including news media, mugshot websites, public social media, and other open sources."
Democratic lawmakers rallying against the company are fighting against the destruction of individual anonymity. Additionally, the lawmakers claim that Clearview’s technology is dangerous to the safety of Americans.
“[Clearview] could eliminate public anonymity in the United States,” the Democrats wrote. “Facial recognition tools pose a serious threat to the public's civil liberties and privacy rights, and Clearview AI's product is particularly dangerous."
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Should Clearview be allowed to steal your pictures?
One of the major issues with Clearview AI is its perceived theft of identities from around the web. While the information it uses is technically a database of public information, it’s still using individuals’ information without their permission. The Democrats write that Clearview's identifying nature may actively stop citizens from fighting for rights.
“When individuals believe the government is surveilling them, they are likely to avoid engaging in activities protected by the First Amendment," the collective wrote. "Facial recognition technology runs the risk of deterring the public from participating in marches or rallies, or speaking out against injustice."
Additionally, the letter notes the racial bias common in facial recognition tools using Clearview’s database. This is an issue that has been long pointed out, so much so that the White House has used it to call for an AI Bill of Rights.
The letter says:
“[outside of] inaccuracy issues, communities of color are systematically subjected to over-policing, and the proliferation of biometric surveillance tools is, therefore, likely to disproportionately infringe upon the privacy of individuals in Black, Brown, and immigrant communities."