The New York Police Department (NYPD) has been adding photos of kids as young as 11, to its facial recognition database according to recent reports by the New York Times. Janai Nelson, Associate Director-Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) issued the following statement:

“NYPD’s expanding use of facial recognition technology on the children of New York City should alarm every resident of this city.  It is well-documented that facial recognition technology routinely misidentifies darker skin, women, and young children. Given NYPD’s longstanding and well-documented history of weaponizing technology against New Yorkers, especially against Black, Latinx and Muslim communities, this flawed technology puts the children of those and other targeted communities at grave risk. Deploying these experimental and biased practices to target children, especially without public or parental knowledge is wholly unacceptable.  This problem is particularly heightened because the NYPD uses this technology to maintain and exploit a database of children, without any accountability, community input, or transparency.

“This widespread surveillance of New Yorkers without their consent highlights why the City Council should continue its efforts to pass the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act, requiring transparency and oversight of NYPD’s surveillance technologies.  We call on the NYPD to immediately reveal all the ways it is currently using facial recognition and biometric reading, both on children and adults. As the NYC Automated Decision Systems task force testimony emphasized this past May, the NYPD should not be allowed to secretly use technology against New Yorkers without their knowledge not only due to inaccuracies but because of clear and distinct racial biases in both NYPD data and practices. This misuse of technology threatens to exacerbate existing racial inequities and the discriminatory and unconstitutional policing practices that we are working to combat in NYC and across the country”

Read LDF’s full testimony


Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and 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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