The American Civil Liberties Union accused the Port of Seattle of failing to fulfill its promises and called on the port to increase its honesty and policies in the use of facial recognition technology.
Specifically, the ACLU described the effective prohibition of biometric surveillance including facial recognition technology recently announced by the Port Commission as hypocritical. The committee controls and formulates policies for the Port of Seattle and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
“The port cooperates with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which uses this technology to enter and exit the country,” Jennifer Lee, Technical and Freedom Program Manager of the Washington Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in an interview with GeekWire. “It has zero impact on CBP.”
In other words, she said, it can’t really ban things it doesn’t really control. She said this means that the ban announced on July 13 will have a greater impact on port public relations than on privacy. “The port should not provide cover for CBP’s actions,” she added. “It tried to give it a friendly face.”
At the most recent hearing before the ban, Port of Seattle executive director Steve Metruk admitted that some critics believed that the port’s biometric monitoring program was far from reaching the level it should be, but he countered that the port’s supervision Greatly raise public concerns about privacy. action.
“We have two overall goals for these policies,” he said. “First, we want to stay true to our values and biometric technology in principle The committee passed in December 2019. We must always focus first on the rights and experience of passengers, workers and visitors of our facilities.
“We believe that certain uses of biometrics will violate these values,” he said. “Secondly, where we believe that certain uses are appropriate, we want to ensure that the technology operates under strong protective measures.”
Metruck and the port commissioner said that this is the essence of the new port policy: prohibit all possibilities and set up guardrails where permitted. Voting on July 13 Prohibition of the use of biometrics It is used for surveillance and security purposes of government and law enforcement agencies on all port properties (including downtown ports and Sea-Tac International Airport).
The ban aligns the port with federal regulations, but does not include voluntary facial recognition systems, such as Clear It allows Sea-Tac passengers to quickly pass airport security by using biometric scanning. CLEAR is a private paid service mainly used in airports and stadiums.
The Port of Seattle was the first port authority in the country to restrict the use of biometrics for surveillance.
However, Lee stated that while the port cannot prevent federal immigration authorities on its property from using the technology, it does not have to cooperate with them. She said the port has spent millions of dollars to help advance federal biometric monitoring.
“We have been urging the port to refuse (US Customs and Border Protection) cooperation,” she pointed out.
The port followed national trends and found that both the private and public sectors are resisting the rapid spread of facial recognition technology. Amazon and Microsoft recently banned the sale of such technologies to domestic law enforcement agencies. Oakland and San Francisco have banned government and law enforcement from using it. New York is considering.
Portland also bans government-sponsored facial recognition. The city of Seattle has already considered such a ban.