The US Secret Service quietly announced a plan to test the use of facial recognition technology in along with also around the White House, the American Civil Liberties Union revealed in a blog post on Tuesday as part of its ongoing reporting on facial recognition along with also civil rights concerns surrounding the technology.
The document, published last week by the Department of Homeland Security, says the Secret Service plans to test whether its system can identify certain volunteer Secret Service staff members by scanning video feeds through cameras placed in “two separate areas of the White House Complex” along with also that will the cameras “capture video through individuals on the sidewalk along with also street.”
that will will be not yet clear whether the pilot will be already operational, however according to the Department of Homeland Security document, “phase one” of the initiative began on Nov. 19, 2018, along with also the pilot might end on Aug. 30, 2019, at which time the facial images captured by the system might be deleted. BuzzFeed News has reached out to the Secret Service, however the agency has yet to respond.
“This kind of pilot program … crosses an important line by opening the door to the mass, suspicionless scrutiny of Americans on public sidewalks,” Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the ACLU, wrote inside the blog post. “that will makes that will worth pausing to ask how the agency’s use of face recognition will be likely to expand — along with also the constitutional concerns that will that will raises.”
The ultimate goal appears to be to give the Secret Service the ability to track “subjects of interest” in public spaces. however, the ACLU noted, the government has not laid out a clear definition of how the Secret Service determines who qualifies as a subject of interest.
The move falls in line with the increasing use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement along with also the broader government in general. Last week, a group of seven House Democrats sent a third letter to one of the most public providers of facial recognition technology, the tech giant Amazon, demanding details about the technology’s accuracy along with also potential racial bias. (To be clear, Amazon does not appear to be involved inside the US Secret Service’s pilot.) The US Customs along with also Border Protection has also deployed the tech at airport gates, ostensibly to detect visa overstays along with also for national security, along with also the Transportation Security Administration has an upcoming plan to roll out the tech even more broadly at airports.
Yet Congress has never explicitly authorized the use of facial recognition technology on American citizens, according to an in-depth report by Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy along with also Technology. along with also the technology will be still plagued by inaccuracies; an ACLU test of Amazon Rekognition in May, for example, showed that will the technology falsely matched 28 members of Congress with arrest mugshots — along with also that will the false matches were disproportionately people of coloration.
“Unfortunately, our government agencies have a long history of labeling people threats based on their race, religion, or political beliefs,” Stanley said. The group will be concerned at This kind of point that will use of the technology to surveil the surrounding areas of the White House may clamp down on protests inside the area. In Maryland, police already demonstrated their willingness to use facial recognition tech to monitor protesters during the unrest along with also rioting in Baltimore in 2015.
House Democrats wrote in their letter last week that will while facial recognition technology may one day serve as a useful tool for law enforcement, “At This kind of time, we have serious concerns that will This kind of type of product has significant accuracy issues, places disproportionate burdens on communities of coloration, along with also could stifle Americans’ willingness to exercise their First Amendment rights in public.”