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The Source: The 'Wild West' Of Facial Recognition Technology

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The use of facial recognition technology is not governed by any federal laws. Texas is one of two states with laws on the books to prevent the use of this tech to capture, store or use biometric identifiers without informed consent, but the statute only applies to commercial entities and is not used often in litigation.

More than 117 million people in the United States - half of all American adults - are in a law enforcement face recognition network. It’s a powerful technology that can be accessed by 1 in 4 law-enforcement agencies, but is also almost completely unregulated. 

"With only a few exceptions, there are no laws governing police use of the technology, no standards ensuring its accuracy, and no systems checking for bias," said Clare Garvie, an associate of The Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law, in an October 18 press release. "It's a wild west."

How does facial recognition impact privacy, civil liberties and civil rights? What should be done to prevent the misuse of this powerful technology?


Alvaro Bedoya, executive director of The Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law and co-author of the report "The Perpetual Lineup: Unregulated Police Face Recognition in America"