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Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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Although the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v Wade commonly is used to fight the nation’s abortion wars, a prominent freshman House Democrat is applying it toward a more futuristic privacy battle over the use of facial recognition technology.
Often seen by many Americans applied on their television screens as a high-tech tool employed by Hollywood scriptwriters to help their favorite fictional cops catch the bad guys on TV, facial recognition is a real and emerging advanced biometric screening technique which identifies an individual based on the unique geometry of their facial features.
There are currently no federal regulations regarding the use of facial recognition technology for commercial or government use.
The use of facial recognition technology by the government poses potential questions of constitutionality under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution. These questions are yet untested as the Supreme Court has not directly ruled upon the constitutionality of police use of facial recognition technology upon citizens.
In addition, Congress has found that facial recognition technology misidentifies women and minorities and a much higher rate than white males, increasing the risk of racial and gender bias.
Prominent Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York used the basic findings of Roe v Wade to argue Wednesday that the decision offers Americans a measure of privacy as it relates to use of the new technology.
Roe v Wade in 1973 established that the Constitution provides Americans with a right to privacy during a back-and-forth with Neema Singh Guliani,
Senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union during a congressional oversight hearing on use of the technology, particularly by private-sector technology companies.
“Right. So, you know, we don’t just have — because that right to privacy is alluded to, part of the case, in our right to privacy, is that this doesn’t just give us a right to my uterus; it gives me a right to my hand and my shoulders, my heads, my knees, my toes, and my face. So in some ways, part of the case, although there’s not all of it, there’s a great deal alluded to in the 14th Amendment with search-and-seizure, but in our right to privacy we also see here that this is about our entire body, our right to our entire body,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “The similar principle that keeps the legislator out of my womb is the same principle that would keep Facebook and algorithms out of all of our faces.”