Secret Service testing use of facial recognition outside White House

A facial recognition program is being tested by the U.S. Secret Service in the vicinity of the White House.

The agency started the program late last month, and its existence was publicized by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Tuesday.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has said that the facial recognition software will only be used to identify volunteer Secret Service members in public spaces, but there is no way to separate the images of volunteers and pedestrians walking in front of the White House.


In a document outlining the program, DHS suggests people who do not wanted to be captured on camera “may choose to avoid the area.”

The images from the facial recognition software will be used to match with “subjects of interest,” which at this point is volunteers in the program, according to DHS.

Existing White House security cameras are being used for the program.

The recorded images will be limited to the White House security system and will be deleted at the end of the program in August 2019, according to officials.

In its blog post publicizing the program, the ACLU called it “yet another step toward the normalization of facial recognition as a blanket security measure.”

A request for comment from the DHS office overseeing the program was not immediately returned.