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A “Threat To Black Communities”: Senators Call On Immigration Cops And FBI To Quit Using Clearview Facial Recognition


Magazine, The Immigrant Experience, Forbes,

A trio of Senators are calling on federal agencies to stop using facial recognition technology built by Clearview AI, a Peter Thiel-backed surveillance business valued at $130 million.

In letters signed by Sens. Edward Markey and Jeffrey Merkley, as well as House Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Ayanna Presley, they warned that “facial recognition tools pose a serious threat to the public’s civil liberties and privacy rights, and Clearview AI’s product is particularly dangerous.” The company has a database of more than 10 billion faces, largely built on scrapes of social media websites like Facebook and Instagram, against which police can check their own facial imagery to identify people.

“Additionally, this technology poses unique threats to Black communities, other communities of color and immigrant communities,” the officials wrote, talking about general facial recognition tech. They cited a government study that found Black, Brown and Asian individuals were up to 100 times more likely to be misidentified than white male faces. There have been a handful of cases where Black citizens were wrongfully arrested because of a false facial recognition match.

“Facial recognition technology like Clearview’s poses unique threats to marginalized communities in ways that extend beyond the tools’ 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,” the letters continued.

“We urge you to stop use of facial recognition tools, including Clearview AI’s products.”

The letters were sent to the DHS, the U.S. Attorney General, the Department of Defense, the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The lawmakers last year put forward a bill, the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act, which would ban the use of facial recognition by federal agencies or any government official. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren also backed the bill.

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