Human Rights Organizations Call for Corporate Ban on Facial Recognition Tech

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The organizations called facial recognition "inherently discriminatory and dangerous."

Two dozen civil and human rights organizations Wednesday called on federal, state and local government officials and private sector leaders to ban the private and corporate use of facial recognition technology.

In an open letter, the organizations point to Portland, Oregon’s ban on the private use of facial recognition in 2020 as a potential blueprint for Congress and government officials to follow in creating future legislation and policy.

The letter contends the growing use of facial recognition tech—often paired with artificial intelligence capabilities—by large companies like Amazon, Apple and Uber could have severe consequences, from large-scale discrimination against minorities to marginalizing employees.

“We call on all local, state, and federal elected officials, as well as corporate leaders, to ban the use of facial recognition surveillance by private entities,” the letter states. “The dangers of facial recognition far outweigh any potential benefits, which is why banning both government and private use of facial recognition is the only way to keep everyone safe.”

The letter was signed by numerous organizations, including Fight for the Future, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Muslim Justice League and Secure Justice. The ban shares similarities to the Ethical Use of Facial Recognition Act introduced last year by Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. That legislation, which ultimately stalled, would have stopped the federal government from using facial recognition until Congress could pass legislation to properly regulate it. Meanwhile, numerous federal agencies, including Customs and Border Protection, operate biometric programs