Members of Congress Ask FBI to Provide Information on Law Enforcement Face Surveillance

December 20, 2022

In a letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Representatives Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Rep. Yvette Clark (D-NY), along with Sen. John Ossoff (D-GA), requested information on the deployment of face surveillance by the FBI and state and local law enforcement. The letter asks the FBI for a range of information, including: a breakdown of crimes for which face surveillance has been used; policies on the level of suspicion required before authorities may use face surveillance; details on FBI oversight of state and local law enforcement use of the FBI’s Next Generation Identification-Interstate Photo System (NGI-IPS), which processes “thousands of facial recognition scans per month” from state and local law enforcement; and data on the use of face surveillance relating to protests and other First Amendment-protected activities.

EPIC has been a leading advocate for a ban on face surveillance and previously supported legislation to stop government use of facial recognition and other biometric surveillance tools that “enable mass surveillance and discriminatory targeted surveillance.” EPIC also regularly files amicus briefs advocating that authorities roll back the use of facial recognition systems and supporting efforts to increase transparency and accountability surrounding these technologies.

Several years ago through Freedom of Information Act requests, EPIC obtained facial recognition agreements between the FBI and numerous state DMVs to compare subjects of FBI investigations with the millions of license and identification photos retained by participating state DMVs. EPIC also obtained the system requirements for the FBI’s facial recognition system, which showed the FBI was willing to accept an incorrect match up to 20% of the time.

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