It’s often the case that new technologies arrive on the scene faster than our society and its legal code can keep up. Sometimes this can be a good thing. For instance, 3D printing allows people to print out unregulated gun parts, thus allowing gun owners to circumvent the onerous laws of our government, which has struggled to come up with new laws to restrict the technology.
When technology advances at a breakneck pace, however, it can also be quite dangerous for our liberties. This is especially true in regards to privacy. If a new technology makes it easy for the government to track us, you can bet that the government is going to take its sweet time updating the legal code in a way that will protect us from surveillance.
That certainly seems to be the case with facial recognition software. During a recent Congressional Oversight Committee hearing, members of both political parties sounded the alarm on the FBI’s use of the technology, and read the written testimony of Electronic Frontier Foundation senior staff attorney Jennifer Lynch:
Lynch detailed the stunning scope of the FBI’s photo collection. In addition to collecting criminal and civil mug shots, the agency currently has “memorandums of understanding” with 16 states that mean every driver’s license photo from those states is accessible to the agency—without the drivers’ consent. The FBI also has access to photos from the U.S. State Department’s passport and visa records.
Lynch argued that “Americans should not be forced to submit to criminal face recognition searches merely because they want to drive a car. They shouldn’t have to worry their data will be misused by unethical government officials with unchecked access to face…