For Immediate Release
S.T.O.P. Demands Times-Square Subway Facial Recognition Data
(NEW YORK, NY, 4/22/19) – Today, the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP), a New York-based privacy group, demanded that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) provide data on its apparent installation of facial recognition in the Times Square–42nd Street/Port Authority Bus Terminal subway station. The demand under New York’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), includes all “instructions, guides, [and] guidelines” for the WISENET camera system that was discovered last week.
SEE: FOIL Request
The MTA responded to recent outcry against the apparent facial recognition system by claiming that the WISENET system was just a decoy. A spokesperson stated that the video system, which highlighted each passenger’s face, was meant to deter fare evasion.
SEE: NYC subway denies using ‘real-time face recognition screens’ in Times Square
NYC Swears Its Face-Scanning Tech Is Fake and Only Meant to Scare People Out of Doing Crimes
“The MTA can’t deceive the public and then just ask us to take them at their word,” said STOP Executive Director Albert Fox Cahn. “We’re demanding records that will show whether or not the MTA is using this system for facial recognition. Even a half-built system can be a full threat to our civil rights. We must know what software they’re using, how the data is stored, and who it is shared with.”
Revelations about the MTA’s use of WISENET came just a week after reports that the MTA’s facial recognition program for bridges and tunnels had failed to identify a single driver’s face. Researchers also recently revealed failures in the NYPD’s facial recognition program, which frequently returns hundreds of incorrect “matches” for a single suspect’s face.
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The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project STOP is a non-profit advocacy organization and legal services provider hosted by the Urban Justice Center. STOP litigates and advocates for privacy, fighting excessive local and state-level surveillance. Our work highlights the discriminatory impact of surveillance on Muslim Americans, immigrants, and communities of color.
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CONTACT: STOP Executive Director Albert Fox Cahn; firstname.lastname@example.org; 571-766-6273.