People of color less likely to trust law enforcement's use of facial recognition tech, survey shows

People of color less likely to trust law enforcement's use of facial recognition tech, survey shows
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People of color are less likely than white people to trust law enforcement's use of facial recognition technology, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.

Around 60 percent of white adults in the U.S. surveyed by Pew said they trust law enforcement agencies to use facial recognition tools appropriately, compared to 43 percent of black adults and 56 percent of Hispanic adults who expressed such support.


Overall, Pew found that 56 percent of American adults said they trust law enforcement to use the sensitive technology, which has been the subject of enormous controversy over allegations that it misidentifies people of color and women at higher rates.

The poll found that Democrats were more likely to express skepticism of the technology, while Republicans were more likely to be on board. It also found broader support among older respondents.

Forty-two percent of young adults — between 18 and 29 — said they support law enforcement's use of facial recognition, compared to 67 percent of adults older than 65, indicating some degree of generational differences in how adults view the surveillance tech.

The survey emerges as police departments across the country and a number of federal agencies are increasingly adopting the technology into their surveillance programs, raising red flags for privacy advocates.

"Several groups express relatively low levels of trust in law enforcement agencies to use facial recognition responsibly – most notably black adults, younger people and those who identify as Democrats," the pollsters wrote.

Respondents were less likely to support the use of facial recognition technology by tech companies and advertisers, with 54 percent of those surveyed saying it is "not acceptable" for advertisers to use the tools to see "how people respond to public display ads."

Pew found higher levels of support for using facial recognition technology for reasons such as "law enforcement assessing security threats in public spaces," which received 59 percent support.

Only 36 percent said they support landlords using facial recognition tech to track "who enters or leaves their buildings."

Facial recognition technology has become a hot-button issue over the past year, as cities across the country have opted to ban local government from using the tools outright while some states eye legislation that would limit its use.

On Capitol Hill, a House committee is expected to unveil bipartisan legislation that would curtail the government's use of facial recognition technology, a bill that comes after a string of hearings in which lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed serious privacy and civil rights concerns surrounding the increasingly popular tech.

The Pew survey of 4,272 randomly-chosen U.S. adults was conducted June 3-17 and has a margin of error of 1.9 percentage points.