Surveillance

House Democrats ask DHS to address use of facial recognition on U.S. citizens

In this illustration, rows of black and white photographs are boxed in by digital identification squares.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

23 House Democrats have signed a letter to acting Homeland Secretary Kevin McAleenan expressing concern over reports of facial recognition systems being used on American citizens.

The big picture: Regulating facial recognition software has bipartisan support. Republicans and Democrats are worried about potential abuse of power by law enforcement and have suggested implementing federal laws to restrain the technology. Others are concerned it could be used as a tool for authoritarian surveillance, as in China and other states.

AI is "awakening" surveillance cameras

Illustration of surveillance cameras with a binary code overlay
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

There are millions of surveillance cameras in the U.S., but not nearly enough eyes to watch them all. When you pass one on the street, you can rightly expect your actions to go unnoticed in the moment; footage is instead archived for review if something goes wrong.

What's happening: Now, AI software can flag behavior it deems suspicious in real-time surveillance feeds, or pinpoint minute events in past footage — as if each feed were being watched unblinkingly by its own hyper-attentive security guard. The new technology, if it spreads in the U.S., could put an American twist on Orwellian surveillance systems abroad.