Our Government Should Not Be Conducting Facial Surveillance

New proposals for regulating the use of face recognition technology are major victories for the legislative imagination, even if they don’t become law

Evan Selinger
OneZero
Published in
6 min readMar 5, 2019

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Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Co-authored by Woodrow Hartzog

TThe debate over facial recognition technology has advanced to the point where one thing is clear: It must be regulated. Not only have civil rights groups like the ACLU made this case, but even companies like Microsoft and Amazon acknowledge that change is necessary.

The question, then, is what’s the best way to respond to the dangers that facial recognition poses? Problems concerning bias and disparate impacts on minority communities are far from resolved. Corporate proposals aren’t credible solutions given the risk involved. And the dangers to our basic constitutional liberties are so profound that it might not be possible to effectively protect them.

Thankfully, major change is happening in how lawmakers are willing to think about regulation. After a few blips from Illinois, Texas, and Washington imposing some rules on biometric surveillance amid a nearly complete absence of specific restrictions otherwise, in the past month three bills have been introduced at the state and city level…

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Evan Selinger
OneZero
Writer for

Prof. Philosophy at RIT. Latest book: “Re-Engineering Humanity.” Bylines everywhere. http://eselinger.org/