Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was surprised Wednesday to discover common ground with House Republicans amid concerns of surveillance of American citizens.
The House Committee Oversight hearing reflected that lawmakers agree on increased legislation to regulate facial recognition technology used in major companies to track the American public.
“Check the sky for flying [pigs] bc Rep. Meadows, much of the Freedom Caucus & I are in agreement on preventing total surveillance of Americans without their knowledge,” the freshman lawmaker wrote on Twitter.
“Whether it’s Amazon or Gov, no one should be tracked w/o consent or a warrant.”
Check the sky for flying ? bc Rep. Meadows, much of the Freedom Caucus & I are in agreement on preventing total surveillance of Americans without their knowledge.
Whether it’s Amazon or Gov, no one should be tracked w/o consent or a warrant. https://t.co/JQh5WVNTdg
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 22, 2019
Facial recognition software has grown in popularity among law enforcement agencies and big corporations to identify people in public and private settings, Fox News noted.
“I don’t want to see an authoritarian surveillance state, whether it’s run by a government or whether it’s run by five corporations,” Ocasio-Cortez told Buzzfeed News, referencing Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft as the big tech companies.
We caught up with @AOC & asked about Big Tech after the House Oversight Committee hearing on facial recognition today. “I don’t want to see an authoritarian surveillance state, whether it’s run by a government or whether it’s run by five corporations” pic.twitter.com/jwVlOsl3m6
— Davey Alba (@daveyalba) May 23, 2019
Amazon has become an aggressive marketer for its facial recognition platform, Rekognition, pushing the software toward law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and the Orlando Police Department, according to Buzzfeed News.
The hearing on Wednesday aimed to address those concerns and increase protections for American citizens. Ocasio-Cortez noted that the rise in this dangerous software is “tied to the political reality that there is a global rise in authoritarianism and fascism.”
The freshman lawmaker’s reflected similar opinions from Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, who agreed that facial recognition is the “sweet spot that brings progressives and conservatives together,” Reuters reported.
The facial recognition technology also raises concerns about inaccuracy.
The software could misidentify civilians and, according to the House Committee Oversight website, the platform “misidentifies women and minorities [at] a much higher rate than white males, increasing the risk of racial and gender bias.”
Rep. Jim Jordan, co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus, pointed out that the tech “attacks civil liberties” because of its inaccuracies.
“When government surveillance attacks civil liberties, Congress must step in and defend Americans,” his tweet read.
When government surveillance attacks civil liberties, Congress must step in and defend Americans.
Our concerns about privacy rights aren’t theoretical. We’ve seen it happen! pic.twitter.com/lxPAaGfw08
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) May 22, 2019
“Our concerns about privacy rights aren’t theoretical. We’ve seen it happen!” Jordan said.
In the video of the hearing, Jordan questioned Neema Singh Guliani, a legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, about facial recognition technology.
“We’ve never seen anything like this technology before,” Guliani said during her testimony. “The U.S. reportedly has over 50 million surveillance cameras. This, combined with face recognition threatens, to create a near-constant surveillance state. It’s urgent that Congress act now.”
Amazon turned down proposals from shareholders who wanted to “curb and audit” the sales of the technology to law enforcement agencies, as well as conduct studies to determine whether the software was infringing on citizens’ privacy, according to Reuters.
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