The Perpetual Line-Up: Unregulated Police Face Recognition in America

In 2016, we published a year-long investigation on police use of face recognition entitled The Perpetual Line-Up: Unregulated Police Face Recognition in America. Piecing together the responses to over 100 Freedom of Information Act requests and dozens of interviews, we found that more than half of American adults were enrolled in a face recognition network searchable by law enforcement. Our findings were covered in the Washington Post, New York Times, CBS Evening News, NPR, and numerous other outlets.

  • In Maryland, our report was on the front page—and editorial page—of the Baltimore Sun. A state legislator offered a bill to regulate face recognition based on the bill in our report.
  • In Vermont, the ACLU used our research to successfully lobby for an end to the state’s use of face recognition on driver’s license photos.
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology modified its testing regime to align with the recommendations in our report, adding regular, ongoing tests for demographic bias.
  • The U.S. House Oversight Committee, driven by our report, held a full committee hearing into the FBI’s use of the technology, where our executive director testified.