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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Digital rights group Fight For the Future is calling on Congress to ban government use of facial recognition. The announcement, to be made Tuesday, comes in the wake of weekend reports that federal authorities used facial recognition on millions of driver's license photos.

Our thought bubble: An all-out ban is unlikely, but the position makes for a strong opening salvo in the looming fight over regulating facial-recognition tech.

Fight For the Future says facial recognition is unlike any other form of surveillance because of its ability to monitor an entire population.

What they're saying: “Imagine if we could go back in time and prevent governments around the world from ever building nuclear or biological weapons. That’s the moment in history we’re in right now with facial recognition,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future. “This surveillance technology poses such a profound threat to the future of human society and basic liberty that its dangers far outweigh any potential benefits. We don’t need to regulate it, we need to ban it entirely.” 

Others, including Microsoft and Amazon, have called on the federal government to regulate, but not necessarily ban, use of the technology.

The bottom line: The status quo — with few, if any, guard rails and little transparency or accountability — isn't protecting anyone. But activists say industry-backed legislation won't go far enough, and the question should really be whether we want the technology used at all.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Reports: Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" and were due to travel to another destination when the gang struck in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

5 hours ago - World

Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews during a news conference in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Melbourne's stay-at-home orders will end five days earlier than planned, officials in Australia's second-biggest city announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The capital of the state of Victoria has had six lockdowns totaling 262 days since March last year. That means Melbourne spent longer under lockdown than "any other city in the world" during the pandemic, Reuters notes.

Venezuela suspends talks with opposition after Maduro ally extradited to U.S.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, in June. Photo: Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key ally of Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro was extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. on Saturday to face money laundering charges in Florida, Bloomberg first reported.

Why it matters: Venezuela's government called off negotiations with opposition officials that were scheduled for Sunday in Mexico in response to the extradition of Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman and financial fixer for Maduro. Security forces placed six U.S. oil executives under house arrest hours later, per AP.