The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the New York Civil Liberties Union have filed a lawsuit challenging the secrecy around US federal law enforcement’s use of facial-recognition surveillance technology.
The lawsuit was filed against the Department of Homeland Security, US Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
“Unlike other ways of verifying a person’s identity, facial recognition technology can enable persistent government surveillance on a massive scale,” said Ashley Gorski, staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project. “The public has a right to know when, where, and how the government is using facial recognition, and what safeguards, if any, are in place to protect our rights. This unregulated surveillance technology threatens to fundamentally alter our free society and is in urgent need of democratic oversight.”
The agencies failed to comply with requests for information filed under the Freedom of Information Act, according to the ACLU, which is asking a federal court to order the agencies to turn over records concerning: plans for further implementation of face surveillance at airports; government contracts with airlines, airports, and other entities pertaining to the use of facial recognition at the airport and other ports of entry; policies and procedures concerning the acquisition, processing, and retention of biometric information; and analyses of the effectiveness of facial recognition technology.
The lawsuit was filed under the Freedom of Information Act in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.