“This should probably be illegal.”
Activists from Fight for the Future, a digital rights group, recently took their fight straight to the higher-ups of Washington DC to drive their point home.
Using commercially available facial recognition software strapped to their foreheads, and “Facial Recognition in Progress” tapped to their hazmat suits, the three activists unapologetically scanned the faces of thousands of passersby’s. Using a database, they cross-checked the thousands of innocent faces, attempting to weed out the Congress members, press, and even Amazon lobbyists.
The irony is the facial recognition software they’re using is owned and operated by Amazon. Rekognition, a cloud-based service, is currently employed by various private and public entities in the United States, including ICE, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, and until recently, the Orlando Police Department.
The proliferation of this intrusive style of surveillance in our everyday lives is the motivation behind the group’s demonstration.
“This should probably be illegal, but until Congress takes action to ban facial recognition surveillance, it’s terrifyingly easy for anyone –– a government agent, a corporation, or just a creepy stalker –– to conduct biometric monitoring and violate basic rights at a massive scale,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future.
The data that was collected by the group will be stored for two weeks, after which time it will be deleted, as promised by the team. The purpose of the demonstration was never to collect data, but to explicitly show the ease and inherent dangers of facial recognition technologies.
So far, out of the 13740 faces scanned, they have been able to identify 1 member of Congress, 7 journalists, and 25 lobbyists. If you were in the DC area on the 14th of November, you can check scancongress.com to see if you were caught in the untargeted event.