Homeland Security Must ‘Immediately Stop’ Using Facial-Recognition AI, Civil Liberties Groups Say

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A coalition of 66 civil liberties, immigrant rights and privacy protection groups sent a letter Monday to the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, demanding the agency to “immediately stop” its contracts with a facial recognition company.

“Clearview AI provides facial recognition services to law enforcement throughout the country, tied to a database of more than 3 billion biometric identifiers that the company has extracted from images scraped without permission from sites including Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn,” according to the letter. “This practice of extracting identifiers is a clear violation of privacy rights.”

ACLU divisions, Mijente, Just Futures Law and The Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law were among the signatories.

Over 7,000 individuals from nearly 2,000 public agencies across the U.S., including local and state police, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Air Force and others have used “the controversial policing tool” developed by Clearview AI, according to BuzzFeed News. (RELATED: Boston City Council Bans Facial Recognition Technology, Cites Racial Profiling Concerns)

“Having Clearview technology puts so much power into the hands of ICE agents that have demonstrated time and time again how often they go rogue and how hard it is to keep them accountable,” Jacinta Gonzalez, immigrant advocacy group Mijente’s field director, told The Hill.

“Imagine what ICE agents could do with this type of technology at a protest or at a demonstration,” Gonzalez reportedly said. “The chilling effect that that can have on how people participate in First Amendment protected activity, how people continue to protest state violence,  protest immigration policies … it really has huge implications.”

“Clearview AI’s facial recognition technology is primarily used by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)” for “criminal investigations,” ICE’s spokesperson told The Hill.