America Under Watch: Face Surveillance in the United States

This is imminently likely in Detroit and Chicago. In a report released by the Center on Privacy & Technology, we explain how police agencies in these cities have purchased citywide face surveillance networks that are capable of scanning the faces of city residents in real time as they walk down the street. Detroit’s system was designed to be able to operate on the city’s “Project Green Light” network of over 500 cameras, including cameras outside places of worship, women’s reproductive clinics, and youth centers.

And Chicago and Detroit are not the only jurisdictions interested in face surveillance, though they seem to be the furthest along in realizing this goal. In our 2016 report The Perpetual Line-up, the Center on Privacy & Technology found that at least four additional police departments—the Los Angeles Police Department, West Virginia Intelligence Fusion Center, Seattle South Sound 911, and Dallas Area Rapid Transit—had purchased or had announced plans to purchase face surveillance systems. Since then authorities have begun piloting face surveillance systems in Orlando, Washington, D.C., and New York City as well.