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Senators Express Concern Over Discriminatory Implications of Facial Recognition Tech

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Three U.S. Senate Democrats have sent a letter to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission inquiring about the steps it is taking to mitigate the potential discriminatory effects brought about by the growing use of facial analysis technologies in the workplace.

Senators Kamala Harris of California, Patty Murray of Washington and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, in a Sept. 17 letter obtained by Tech Crunch, expressed concern over “a growing body of evidence” indicating that facial analysis technologies, which are increasingly being implemented by employers for multiple purposes including hiring, amplify rather than reduce prejudice.

Citing reports documenting the apparent weakness of facial recognition systems in correctly identifying women or persons of color, the senators stated that such a deficiency “can encode and magnify gender, racial, and other biases” prevalent in society.

The senators went on to ask the EEOC for information about its preparedness to address possible discrimination complaints related to the use of facial recognition.

The lawmakers also requested that the EEOC develop guidelines that would instruct businesses on the fair use of facial recognition and how the use of such technology could potentially result in legal violations.

The EEOC has until Sept. 28 to respond.