GAO Report Finds 10 Federal Agencies Plan to Expand Use of Facial Recognition Through 2023

August 26, 2021

In a new report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) surveyed 24 federal agencies on their use of facial recognition technology. The report reveals that 18 of those agencies are using facial recognition for purposes including law enforcement, physical security/surveillance, and digital access. Ten of those agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the State Department plan to expand their use of facial recognition in the near future by acquiring new systems. According to the GAO, 27 states and 6 municipalities currently allow federal agencies to access non-federal facial recognition systems. The GAO's report follows the office's June report that 42 federal law enforcement agencies are using facial recognition technology with little to no oversight. According to the report, many agencies were unaware that employees were using the technology. The report also reveals that the Department of the Interior accessed the DC-area NCR-FRILS facial recognition system. EPIC organized a coalition opposing the system, leading to its shutdown in July of this year. EPIC recently filed suit against the U.S. Postal Service for using of facial recognition and social media monitoring technology without completing statutorily required Privacy Impact Assessments.

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