Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) published an open letter calling on Google to commit to never sell any facial recognition technology to the government.

The letter, as reported by The Verge, is addressed to Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, and senior VP of global affairs, Kent Walker, and signed by over 85 well-known “racial justice, faith, and civil, human, and immigrants’ rights” organizations including the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

In the open letter, the coalition recognizes Google’s present stance on facial recognition, referencing, among other things, a Google blog post showing the company’s desire to not sell facial recognition tech to any government until appropriate concerns have been resolved.

Consistent with these Principles, Google announced in December 2018 that it has not, and will not sell a facial recognition product until the technology’s dangers are addressed.

However, the ACLU-led coalition seeks for Google to take a firmer stance against ever selling facial recognition tech to any government, as it could easily lead to the singling out of minorities of all varieties.

Face surveillance gives the government new power to target and single out immigrants, religious minorities, and people of color in our communities. Systems built on face surveillance will amplify and exacerbate historical and existing bias that harms these and other over-policed and over-surveilled communities.

Another petition letter, written by Googlers last year, was a significant part of why Google has the AI principles praised in today’s ACLU letter.

Similar letters were also sent to Amazon and Microsoft, by the ACLU, urging each company to commit to not sell their facial recognition technology to the government.

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About the Author

Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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