Campaign Aims to Ban Facial Recognition Surveillance

Fight for the Future, a digital rights group, today announced the launch of BanFacialRecognition.com, which calls for a complete Federal ban on government use of facial recognition surveillance.

“Silicon Valley lobbyists are disingenuously calling for light ‘regulation’ of facial recognition so they can continue to profit by rapidly spreading this surveillance dragnet,” the campaign website says. “They’re trying to avoid the real debate: whether technology this dangerous should even exist. Industry and government friendly oversight will not fix the dangers inherent in law enforcement use of facial recognition: we need an all out ban.”

The website details the group’s motivation for advocating a ban and includes ways to contact elected officials.

“Imagine if we could go back in time and prevent governments around the world from ever building nuclear or biological weapons. That’s the moment in history we’re in right now with facial recognition,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future. “This surveillance technology poses such a profound threat to the future of human society and basic liberty that its dangers far outweigh any potential benefits. We don’t need to regulate it, we need to ban it entirely.”

In a release, Fight for the Future said its position already has bipartisan support in Congress, with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, expressing concerns that the use of facial recognition poses a threat to civil liberties.

While the campaign is advocating for a Federal ban, some local governments have already banned facial recognition surveillance, including San Francisco and Somerville, Mass. Fight for the Future also cited Axon, a maker of tasers and body cams for police officers, which said it wouldn’t commercialize facial recognition because it cannot currently “ethically justify” its use.

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