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Privacy Face-Off: 10 Federal Agencies to Adopt Facial Recognition Tech by 2023.

Even With Bipartisan Opposition, It’s Full Steam Ahead on Face Scanning.


Photo for: Privacy Face-Off: 10 Federal Agencies to Adopt Facial Recognition Tech by 2023.

Key Points

  • 10 federal agencies are expanding their use of facial scanning technology.
  • They will use it to “pursue criminals and scan for threats.”
  • The expansion is setting up a showdown with privacy advocates.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection calls it “the way of the future” – but the cost is steep.

According to the Washington Post, at least 10 federal agencies plan to expand their use of face scanning technology by 2023: the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Interior, Justice, State, Treasury and Veterans Affairs.

They intend to use it to “pursue criminals and scan for threats.” Yes, even the Department of Agriculture: “it wants to use it to monitor live surveillance feeds at its facilities and send an alert if it spots any faces also found on a watch list,” according to the Post.

Intrusive – and morally objectionable – but not uncommon. In fact, facial scanning is already widely-used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Since 2018, they’ve scanned more than 88 million faces at airports, cruise ports and border crossings.

Privacy advocates fear we’ve gone too far; Orwell’s ‘Big Brother’ is becoming a reality – even Big Tech is pushing back. To prevent abuses of power, Amazon has stopped the sale of their face scanning tech Rekognition to law enforcement agencies.

File under “Too Little, Too Late.”

Congress is also working to restrict face scanning – it even has bipartisan support. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY) have introduced a bill that would prevent the government from using any face tech that leveraged data that was “illegitimately obtained.”

But technology moves faster than legislation. 

According to a recent poll, 67% of internet users in the U.S. are not aware of the privacy and data protection rules. Imagine how many are unaware that their face is being scanned.

[h/t Washington Post]