A video surveillance camera hangs from the side of a building on May 14, 2019, in San Francisco, California.

Enlarge / A video surveillance camera hangs from the side of a building on May 14, 2019, in San Francisco, California. (credit: Justin Sullivan | Getty Images)

The use of facial recognition has spread from photo albums and social media to airports, doorbells, schools, and law enforcement. Now, the American Civil Liberties Union wants top US agencies to share records detailing what face data they're collecting and what they're doing with it.

The ACLU in January submitted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the FBI seeking records relating to the agencies' "use of face recognition programs and other biometric identification and tracking technology." Almost 10 months later, the ACLU has received no response. And so the organization today filed suit against all three agencies, seeking the records.

The records are "important to assist the public in understanding the government's use of highly invasive biometric identification and tracking technologies," says the complaint, filed in federal court in Massachusetts. Through the records, the ACLU seeks to "understand and inform the public about, among other things, how face recognition and other biometric identification technologies are currently being used by the government and what, if any, safeguards are currently in place to prevent their abuse and protect core constitutional rights."

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