Agents of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have reportedly been using facial recognition technology without the necessary training, raising serious concerns about privacy and civil liberties.
A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, initiated by a group of seven Democratic Congressional members, disclosed that the FBI has performed numerous facial recognition searches using software from third-party vendors over the years.
“Astonishingly, only 5% of the 200 agents having access to this technology have completed the bureau’s three-day training course for its use, according to a report by The Wired,” said GAO.
There is currently no safeguard policy to protect privacy, civil liberties, or civil rights in the application of this technology.
“The FBI’s usage of facial recognition tools far exceeded that of other federal law enforcement agencies. From October 2019 to March 2022, seven agencies conducted over 60,000 searches, with FBI agents executing more than half of them,” said the GAO report.
The software used was sourced from companies such as Clearview AI and Thorn, a nonprofit that uses facial recognition to fight sex trafficking.
Despite the evident concerns and criticisms, there is no current law that requires federal law enforcement officers to receive training prior to using facial recognition or to adhere to specific standards when using it in criminal investigations.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has plans to enforce a civil liberties and civil rights policy for facial recognition usage, but no date has been confirmed yet.
The report surfaces at a time when facial recognition technology is under intense scrutiny, with misidentification instances leading to wrongful arrests, particularly among Asian Americans and dark-skinned women. For years, the FBI has been under pressure to enhance the safeguards surrounding its use of this technology.
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Edited by Judy J. Rotich and Newsdesk Manager
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