Dozens of American civil rights groups have called on the US Department of Justice to investigate police use of facial-recognition databases, amid rising concerns over privacy violations and the racial exploitation of surveillance technology.
In a letter to the department on Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), along with 51 other advocacy groups, argued that the use of facial-recognition databases by a growing number of law enforcement agencies across the US affects minorities and enjoys minimal oversight.
The rights groups said that there were no safeguards to ensure this technology was being used fairly and responsibly.
“In the case of face recognition, there appears to be very few controls or safeguards to ensure it’s not used in situations in which people are engaged in first amendment activity,” said Neema Singh Guliani, ACLU’s legislative counsel.
The move coincides with the release of a new report that suggests half of America's adults, amounting to more than 117 people, have their images stored in at least one searchable facial-recognition database used by authorities.
The report said that those databases are not regularly examined by authorities for accuracy and contain images of many innocent people.
Numerous major police departments have “real-time face recognition” technology that allows surveillance cameras to scan the faces of pedestrians walking down the street, according to the report.
Facial-recognition databases are used by police to help identify criminal suspects.
The US police are accused of using excessive force, particularly against African-Americans. The deaths of unarmed black men and women over the past years have sparked protests nationwide under the banner called - Black Lives Matter.