Big tech has recently bloomed into an unchecked political force, censoring conservative voices and opposing White House reforms in pursuit of a far-left, progressive agenda, and reaping huge profits along the way. Now, however, Silicon Valley faces an unexpected problem — a coalition of leftist activist groups who are demanding that tech giants Google, Amazon, and Microsoft not sell facial recognition technology to the U.S. government.
At least nine George Soros-funded nonprofits have teamed up with the ACLU and 85 other activist groups to demand an embargo against selling the highly advanced technology to American law enforcement, arguing that it could be used for discriminatory purposes against “immigrants and communities of color.”
Fears of exploitation
ACLU Technology and Civil Liberties Director Nicole Ozer explained the coalition’s position. “History has clearly taught us that the government will exploit technologies like face surveillance to target communities of color, religious minorities, and immigrants,” she said.
The movement started after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos met with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to discuss the sale of his company’s “face surveillance product.”
Responding to this meeting, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel Neema Singh Guliani wrote that “the use of biometrics in this way has fueled the current mass detention and deportation efforts, which terrorize immigrant communities throughout the country, resulting in countless errors, deportations without due process, and increased racial profiling.”
A recent Facebook trend demonstrates some of the fears that people share of Big Tech using personal photos for odious purposes. Users have been sharing “then and now” selfies separated by ten years to share how they have aged with friends and family. Some social media users contend that the before-and-after images make it easier for Big Tech to engage in social engineering projects. Of course, these fears are largely overblown — Facebook already has access to these photos.
Facial recognition technology can be a valuable tool for law enforcement. In fact, Rekognition, Amazon’s facial surveillance technology, is already being used in several states to track mugshots and respond to Amber and Silver alerts — or missing person cases involving children and the elderly.
These products can also play an integral role in identifying the victims and perpetrators of human trafficking. In 2018, The Global Slavery Index found that “on any given day in 2016 there were 403,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the United States, a prevalence of 1.3 victims of modern slavery for every thousand in the country.”
Soros’s influence on social justice groups like the ACLU is unmistakable. He recently gifted the civil rights organization with a $50 million grant “to end mass incarceration.”
Nine Soros-funded nonprofits are involved in the effort to put pressure on Silicon Valley, including 18MillionRising.org, American Friends Service Committee, Arab American Institute, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Asian Law Caucus, Color of Change, Free Press, Make the Road New York and Partnership for Working Families.
So far, their efforts have had middling results. Google CEO Sundar Pichai recently announced that his company will not sell a face recognition software until “the dangers are addressed.”
But while Microsoft President Brad Smith admitted that the Seattle-based software giant was aware of the dangers of face surveillance technology, neither he nor Amazon’s CEO have announced plans to curtail the sale of their products.