ACLU calls for Washington mayor to ban face recognition tech
03 December 2020 16:13 GMT

In a letter sent today, the ACLU of Washington urged Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to ban the use of face recognition technology by city agencies.

This request comes amid concerns that the Seattle Police Department (SPD) has acquired and used face recognition technology developed by Clearview AI, in apparent violation of the Seattle Surveillance Ordinance.

SPD detectives have been using Clearview AI since at least September 2019, according to information obtained through a public records request submitted by a member of the public in June 2020.

Clearview AI’s face surveillance tool allows users to take a photo and compare it to the company’s database of three billion public images scraped from the internet. The information gathered can be used by law enforcement agencies, companies, and individuals to identify people in public spaces without the knowledge, consent, or participation of the subjects in the photos.

SPD’s adoption of Clearview AI is especially concerning due to the agency’s recent pattern of deploying other surveillance tools to monitor protesters, according to Jennifer Lee, the ACLU of Washington’s Technology and Liberty Project Manager.

“Face surveillance is a powerful and racially biased tool that invades people’s privacy and exerts a chilling effect on free speech,” said Lee. “Mayor Durkan should act swiftly to ban this technology and avoid further harm to the most marginalized communities in our society.”

SPD had apparently not followed the process outlined by the Seattle Surveillance Ordinance to acquire and use Clearview AI.

Industry Events


connect:ID 2021 5-6 Oct 21