The US Secret Service (USSS) has started testing facial recognition security around the White House, scanning passersby via CCTV feeds.
For now, the trial relies upon USSS volunteers, whose faces are added to a watch list, and then automatically identified by the facial recognition system. But the ultimate aim is to scan passersby in the public spaces around the White House for known persons of interest and potential threats, so that USSS and other security staff can respond more quickly and effectively.
The deployment’s announcement has attracted the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union, with ACLU Senior Policy Analyst Jay Stanley arguing in a new blog post that it represents “yet another example of DHS’s determination to deploy face recognition” in public spaces, scanning citizens without criminal suspicion. Stanley compares the deployment to the Department of Homeland Security’s use of facial recognition in American airports, and raises concerns about mission creep and potential abuses of civil rights, including discrimination against protesters wrongly identified as threats.
Nevertheless, the limited scope of the current trial is unlikely to raise the ire of the broader public, and the ACLU hasn’t yet announced any legal action against the pilot.
The trial program began on November 19th, and is scheduled to run until August 30th of next year.
December 5, 2018 – by Alex Perala