'I'm a little freaked out by facial recognition . . . You should be freaked out too' -- Rep. Rashida Tlaib

June 06, 2019, 7:00 AM

Video facial recoignition systems used in Detroit and elsewhere leave local Congresswoman Rashia Tlaib "a little freaked out," she tells House committee colleagues.

"The inaccuracy and threat to our privacy is real," she tweets after the panel's second hearing in three weeks about the emerging technolgy deployed by police, federal agencies and corporations. "The use of facial recognition freaks me out! You should be freaked out too."

The first-term representative from Southwest Detroit also used the colorful phrase during Tuesday's session of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, as a brief C-Span clip shows:

Representatives of the FBI, TSA and other federal agencies defended the value of using recognition software to analyze security camera videos in certain cases. Lawmakers from both parties have called for strict limits, and some privacy advocates suggest a ban.

Rashida Tlaib at this week's hearing. (Photo: C-Span)

"It's time for a time out" on government use of the technology, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said after the first hearing May 22. He's the committee's senior Republican.

"There are virtually no controls," noted Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md.

These are among proposed steps, according to The Hill, a Washington publication:

  • Requiring law enforcers to get a warrant for each facial recognition scan of video footage.
  • Limiting use to serious crimes.
  • Mandatory human review of matches.
  • Independent testing and accuracy standards.

An ACLU-led coalition of more than 60 groups sent a letter to the House committee before this week's hearing, urging a "federal moratorium on face recognition for law enforcement and immigration enforcement purposes." Common Dreams, a nonprofit national news site based in Portland, Maine, quotes from it:

"Face recognition gives government agencies the unprecedented power to track who we are, where we go, and who we know. This capability threatens to create a world where people are watched and identified as they attend a protest, congregate outside a place of worship, visit a medical provider or simply go about their daily lives."

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