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The Window to Rein In Facial Recognition Is Closing

As Congress continues to punt on facial recognition, advocacy groups have redoubled their efforts.

In the wake of jarring revelations about how United States law enforcement agencies have deployed facial recognition, Congress seemed, for a moment, galvanized to act. Based on a Homeland Security Committee hearing in the House Wednesday, that moment appears to be fading—as hundreds of local, state, and federal law enforcement officials continue to amass and access the controversial data every day.

Some municipalities—San Francisco and Somerville, Massachusetts, among them—have proactively banned law enforcement's use of facial recognition. And more localized entities, like the New York State Education Department, have barred it in certain circumstances as well. And even police bodycam maker Axom has declined to incorporate it into its products. But the longer Congress declines to act on a broader level, the more entrenched the technology becomes and the harder it will be for opponents to overcome its inertia.

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