Facial recognition technology is targeting Black people

Facial recognition targets black peopleFacial recognition technology uses algorithms to replicate the racial bias in policing that has had life-threatening consequences for Black people and our communities. This invasive technology is racist and inaccurate, misidentifies women and people of color, and reinforces a system of oppression that surveils and targets Black people on baseless grounds, while also demonizing our physical appearance.1 Widespread use of this technology by law enforcement will lead to even more police encounters, wrongful arrests, harassment, and deportation. With error rates as high as 98%, facial recognition is one of the most dangerous forms of surveillance for our communities, and we must tell lawmakers to ban this technology.2

Tell your members of Congress to ban facial recognition.

Facial recognition technology, at its core, is a flawed form of surveillance that comes at the expense of basic civil rights, security, and privacy. It has been scientifically proven that this form of surveillance is inaccurate and miscategorizes the faces of women and Black people.3 In a test recently conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union, the facial recognition technology Rekognition, used by Amazon on the general public, incorrectly matched the photos of 28 members of Congress with mug shots of individuals with previous arrests. Alarmingly, these false matches also disproportionately identified six members of the Congressional Black Caucus.4 With police violence against Black people at an all-time high, allowing lawmakers to implement facial recognition programs will result in increased and potentially violent interactions with the police.

Protect our civil rights and tell your lawmakers to ban facial recognition.

Currently, there are no legal safeguards for this technology.5,6 It is being abused in the New York City police department, with the images of children and teenagers uploaded into a database despite evidence that facial recognition technology has a higher risk of being inaccurate on children. The technology even lacks the ability to account for changes in facial structure.7 In the face of a lack of legislative oversight for this technology the city of Detroit, a predominantly Black city, is also battling with the harms of facial recognition technology and refuses to share how many arrests have been made due to the technology. With no oversight of facial recognition technology, Black people run the risk of having their images saved and ran through these databases, or they could even be arrested and prosecuted due to the inaccuracy of this technology.

Color Of Change has fought for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to adopt the Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance, banning San Francisco agencies from acquiring or using facial recognition technologies. We are expanding our efforts to hold elected officials accountable for racially biased technologies by partnering with over 30 organizations to ensure this evasive technology does not further oppress and harm our communities.

Take action and tell your lawmakers to ban facial recognition technology.

From COINTELPRO to the FBI’s use of the baseless “Black identity extremist” term, Black people are continuously being targeted through laws and legislation. Facial recognition technology is unjust and dangerous, and circumvents the law. We must take a stand to protect our civil rights and prevent unnecessary interactions with the police that can be traumatic or have deadly consequences. Tell your lawmakers to ban facial recognition technology.

Until justice is real,

–Brandi, Rashad, Arisha, Evan, Johnny, Future, Eesha, Samantha, Marcus, FolaSade, Jamila and the rest of the Color Of Change team


“Facial Recognition Software Prompts Privacy, Racism Concerns in Cities and States,” Pew Charitable Trusts, August 9, 2019, https://act.colorofchange.org/go/182660?t=10&akid= 36279%2E107577%2ErQTuUM

“Facial-Recognition Software Inaccurate in 98% of Cases, Report Finds,” CNET, May 13, 2018, https://act.colorofchange.org/go/182661?t=12&akid=362 79%2E107577%2ErQTuUM

“Facial Recognition Is Accurate, if You’re a White Guy,” New York Times, February 9, 2018, https://act.colorofchange.org/go/182662?t=14&akid=3 6279%2E107577%2ErQTuUM

“Amazon’s Face Recognition Falsely Matched 28 Members of Congress With Mugshots,” ACLU, July 26, 2018, https://act.colorofchange.org/go/102218?t=16&akid=36 279%2E107577%2ErQTuUM

“Facial Recognition Surveillance Faces New Calls for Legal Limits,” Axion, March 13, 2019, https://act.colorofchange.org/go/182663?t=18&akid=3627 9%2E107577%2ErQTuUM

“Facial Recognition Technology, Face ID and the Constitution,” Law Shelf Educational Media, https://act.colorofchange.org/go/182664?t=20&akid= 36279%2E107577%2ErQTuUM

“She Was Arrested at 14. Then Her Photo Went to a Facial Recognition Database,” New York Times, August 1, 2019, https://act.colorofchange.org/go/182667?t=22&akid=3 6279%2E107577%2ErQTuUM

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