Tell Congress: Get facial recognition technology out of public housing
Imagine a world where federal and local governments implemented surveillance programs that allow them to decide the fate of people's safety, health, and livelihood.
That world is becoming reality faster than we think with facial recognition technology seeping into nearly every area of our lives. Facial recognition is an authoritarian government's dream come true. Already, airlines and police departments are collecting people's biometric data without consent and using faulty, racist and sexist technology. Now, many public housing landlords are doing the same. That is terrifying.
Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Yvette Clarke, and Rashida Tlaib just introduced legislation to ban facial recognition technology in federally funded housing.1 If Congress passes this bill, it would not only protect tenants' privacy, but also pave the path for stronger legislation to protect the privacy of all Americans. Will you add your support now?
Tell Congress: Landlords have no business spying on their tenants. Support the No Biometric Barriers Act.
Some landlords are already trying to push residents out of their communities by using this flawed technology. In New York, a majority Black Brooklyn apartment community pushed back when their landlord attempted to test a face scanning "security" system in their building. Longtime residents say "We don't believe he's doing this to beef up security in the building. We believe he's doing this to attract new tenants who don't look like us."2
Surveillance technology is often used to track and control communities. More than 130 million American adults are in facial recognition databases and can be tracked by law enforcement regardless of criminal investigation.3 On top of this, there is no transparency on how the tech is being used, by who and where our biometric data is stored. The threats posed by face recognition software can range from faulty "matches" that lead to unfair arrests to data leaks of not only pictures of our faces, but also all the sensitive information attached to them - even Social Security numbers.
We are all affected by surveillance, but for members of already over-policed communities who live in public housing, increased government surveillance could have lethal consequences. Surveillance in these communities is not about safety, it is about dehumanization and control. Facial recognition is proven to have higher error rates for dark skin people and women. 4 The technology can't even correctly identify transgender people. 5
So far, San Francisco, Oakland and Somerville, Massachusetts have banned facial recognition. 6 In the House of Representatives, limiting the use of facial recognition surveillance has bipartisan support. 7 We have the momentum, and it's up to us to keep it going. Getting Congress to pass the No Biometric Barriers Act would bring us one step closer to protecting our communities from increased government surveillance.
Tenants deserve their privacy. No one should be surveilled by their landlord, police or the government.
Tell Congress: Keep communities safe. Support the No Biometric Barriers Act.
- Alfred Ng, "Facial recognition may be banned from public housing thanks to proposed law" CNET, July 22, 2019.
- Julia Conley, "To Keep Public Housing From Becoming 'Panopticon of Automated Face Scanning,' Democrats Push Facial Recognition Ban" Common Dreams, July 23, 2019.
- Alvaro Bedoya, Clare Garvie and Jonathan Frankle, "The Perpetual Lineup" Georgetown Law Center on Privacy Technology, Oct. 18, 2016.
- Edward Ongweso, Jr., "Racial Bias in AI Isn’t Getting Better and Neither Are Researchers’ Excuses" VICE, July 29, 2019.
- Matthew Gault, "Facial Recognition Software Regularly Misgenders Trans People" VICE, Feb. 19, 2019.
- Sam Fulwood III, "As facial recognition software stokes privacy fears, some cities are imposing bans" ThinkProgress, July 21, 2019.
- Makena Kelly, "Republicans and Democrats agree: it’s time to regulate facial recognition tech" Verge, May 22, 2019.