Democrats, Republicans Both Want to Regulate Facial Recognition

Democrats, Republicans Both Want to Regulate Facial Recognition

Legal experts, tech researchers and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are calling for Congress to rein in the use of facial recognition tools by law enforcement agencies “before it gets out of control.”


If left unchecked, they said the tech could infringe on Americans’ privacy and civil liberties, and perpetuate racial and gender discrimination in the criminal justice system. And with numerous law enforcement groups using the software today, those fears may already be taking shape, they said.


On Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee questioned the accuracy and legality of facial recognition tools available to law enforcement agencies decried the lack of transparency into how the tools are used to monitor public spaces, conduct criminal investigations and identify potential suspects.


In an unusually bipartisan display, Republicans and Democrats both underscored the urgent need to regulate the tech. Some even suggested temporarily prohibiting agencies’ from using facial recognition technology until Congress can set clear guidelines.


"No elected officials gave the OK for the states or for the federal government, the FBI, to use [facial recognition],” said Ranking Member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. “There should probably be some kind of restrictions. It seems to me it's time for a timeout."


While Wednesday’s hearing marked one of Capitol Hill’s first deep dives into facial recognition, civil liberties groups and technologists have criticized the tech’s accuracy and fairness for years. Those issues have received increased attention in recent weeks amid San Francisco’s governmentwide ban on facial recognition tools and mounting concerns over Chinese surveillance operations.


Facial recognition tools have consistently been shown to misidentify ..