EPIC Calls On DOJ and DHS to Create Robust Framework of Safeguards for Surveillance Tech
January 23, 2024
EPIC submitted comments in response to DOJ and DHS’ Request for Written Submissions on Sec. 13e of Executive Order 14074 urging DOJ and DHS to center vulnerable communities in its crafting of new guidance on the use of facial recognition, predictive policing technologies, social media surveillance tools, and DNA analysis tools. EPIC argued that DOJ, DHS, and other law enforcement agencies should cease to use some of the most privacy-invasive and dangerous surveillance technologies—like facial recognition—because of their systemic issues, severe effects on vulnerable populations such as racial minorities, and threat to our democracy. However, EPIC also provided recommendations to create a robust framework of safeguards to protect privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties. EPIC continues to advocate for a set of principles that would adequately assess the risks of these technologies and shape the policy on how law enforcement officials use them. In brief, these include:
- prohibiting mass surveillance;
- protecting privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties;
- protecting constitutional rights;
- proving that the technology and its implementation do not result in a disparate impact for protected classes;
- requiring adequate evaluation of the purpose, objectives, benefits, and risks of the technology;
- adopting stricter data minimization procedures;
- ensuring adequate security for retained data;
- regular independent auditing;
- strengthening accountability and oversight; and
- advancing public trust, prioritizing transparency, and requiring substantiation for claims relating to the technology, especially related to its effectiveness.
EPIC runs a robust surveillance oversight program with several areas of focus. EPIC opposes the spread of facial recognition in both the public and private sector. For many years, EPIC has worked to end TSA’s use of facial recognition at airports. Over the last year, EPIC has helped lead a yearlong coalition campaign to fundamentally reform FISA § 702 as it nears its sunset date. EPIC also regularly calls for increased transparency and oversight of automated decision-making and predictive policing. EPIC has filed complaints with the Attorney General, submitted several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, and engaged in extensive research to map DHS’ web of databases to shine light on law enforcement use of overbroad surveillance technology.