President Biden Signs Executive Order Requiring Scrutiny of Police Surveillance Tools

May 26, 2022

Yesterday, President Biden signed an executive order with the aim of reforming law enforcement. The executive order directs the Equitable Data Working Group to create a Working Group on Criminal Justice Statistics to consult with civil rights and data privacy organizations and to report on law enforcement data practices and use of surveillance tools. Also included in the executive order is the requirement that the National Academy of Sciences “conduct a study of facial recognition technology, other technologies using biometric information, and predictive algorithms” and assess their privacy, civil rights, and disparate impact effects. The executive order also instructs DHS, DOJ, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy to lead an interagency process, in consultation with privacy and civil liberties groups, concerning the use of these technologies and to publish guidelines for their use. Other reforms include regulating police purchases of military equipment and imposing requirements on the use of body-worn cameras.

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. EPIC recently joined a coalition urging Amazon not to host a DHS biometric database and recently published comments to DHS urging the agency to cease using facial recognition and AI-based systems. EPIC previously submitted a statement to Congress warning Congress that body cameras could “become the next surveillance technology disproportionately aimed at the most marginalized members of society.” EPIC stressed that if body cameras are deployed, police departments must comply with all privacy and open government laws.

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