Two Nebraska Agencies Use Flawed Facial Recognition Technology

ACLU Calls for Federal Investigation and Policy Change in Nebraska

Affiliate: ACLU of Nebraska
October 18, 2016 12:30 pm

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LINCOLN, Neb – ACLU of Nebraska Executive Director Danielle Conrad released the following statement related to today’s release of a nationwide analysis of facial recognition tools used by law enforcement. The analysis included two law enforcement agencies in Nebraska, the Nebraska State Patrol and the Lincoln Police Department.

“The ACLU of Nebraska has been working hard to shine light on tools of mass surveillance and to stand up for individual liberty and personal privacy rights. Databases of driver’s license photos, or other civilian databases that contain photos, should not be broadly used by law enforcement for face recognition searches without a community conversation about these issues and absent appropriate procedural safeguards. This recent report tells us that the Nebraska State Patrol and the Lincoln Police Department are not meeting best practices when using these technologies and that poses important questions from a basic civil liberty standpoint. We look forward to a robust dialogue on these issues and will continue to advocate for appropriate reforms.”

Press release from the nationwide ACLU:

ACLU Urges Justice Department to Investigate Police Use of Face Recognition

October 18, 2016

WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter today to the Justice Department urging it to investigate the increasing use and impact of face recognition by police.

The letter, sent in partnership with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, comes amid mounting evidence that the technology is violating the rights of millions of Americans and having a disproportionate impact on communities of color.

Also today, Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy & Technology released a report finding that police departments across the country are frequently using face recognition technologies to identify and track individuals — whether crossing the street, captured on surveillance cameras, or attending protests. The report highlights that existing deficiencies are likely to have a disparate impact on African-Americans.

“We need to stop the widespread use of face recognition technology by police until meaningful safeguards are in place,” said Neema Singh Guliani, ACLU legislative counsel. “Half of all adults in the country are in government face recognition databases, yet the vast majority of law enforcement agencies using this technology lack clear policies, audits to ensure accuracy, and transparency.”

Today’s letter, sent to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, was signed by 52 diverse organizations. The letter explains how federal, state and local police forces use driver license photos to identify suspects —without warrants, accuracy tests, or audits.

“We would not let anyone drive a car without working brakes,” continued Guliani. “Similarly, technologies like face recognition should not be deployed without basic safeguards to ensure that they do not harm the very communities they seek to protect.”

Today’s ACLU and Leadership Conference coalition letter is here:

The Georgetown Law Center on Privacy & Technology report is here:

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