A coalition of civil rights organizations sent a letter calling for state and federal government agencies to end the use of and other facial verification tools. Facial recognition technology has been found to have racial bias and disproportionately impact people of color and other marginalized communities. The use of facial recognition technology also has serious implications for privacy and civil liberties. 

Facial recognition has led to the wrongful arrest of Black men in at least three documented incidents. A National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) study found “for one-to-one matching, the team saw higher rates of false positives for Asian and African American faces relative to images of Caucasians. The differentials often ranged from a factor of 10 to 100 times, depending on the individual algorithm.” 

Several federal agencies and states are already using’s face verification services. Federal agencies and state agencies receiving federal funds have an affirmative legal obligation under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to ensure that recipients of federal funds are not engaging in practices that discriminate on the basis of race. There is no indication that the federal and state entities using performed any type of meaningful assessment that considered whether’s facial recognition identity verification will have a disproportionate impact on people of color or other marginalized groups.

The absence of data about’s actual performance in real-world applications means that the public lacks information about’s face verification failure rate, including whether the system disproportionately fails to verify the identities of people of color. also misled the public about its use of 1:many facial recognition, initially stating that they only used 1:1 facial recognition only to backtrack to admit that they do use 1:many facial recognition. 1:many facial recognition searches present even greater bias risks and risks to privacy and civil liberties.

Read the full letter here.


Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.

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