Media Contact

Ben Schaefer,, 212-607-3372

April 7, 2021

NEW YORK - Yesterday Buzzfeed published the results of an investigation into the use of Clearview AI, a frequently used facial recognition software, by police departments and public agencies across the country. The investigation revealed dozens of New York police departments and agencies across the state who used the software to conduct searches between 2018 and February 2020, you can find the database here. The report shows that the NYPD ran the most searches collectively of any entity and, for the first time, confirms that the Metropolitan Transit Authority conducted thousands of searches using facial recognition tech. In response, the NYCLU issued a statement from executive director Donna Lieberman:

"The information reported yesterday reveals the shocking extent to which police departments in New York have been willing to embrace racially biased surveillance tools, and the scale of the threat facial recognition poses in the hands of police. Facial recognition has already led to at least three documented cases of Black men being falsely arrested for crimes based on a faulty match. Lawmakers and leaders in Albany need to take immediate action to address this problem and put a stop to facial recognition use by New York police departments."

"There is a bill in Albany (S. 79/A. 5492) that would prohibit the use of biometric surveillance technology by law enforcement and establish a biometric surveillance regulation task force. In 2020 New York state put a stop to biometric surveillance in our schools, and in 2021 they must put an end of biometric surveillance by police. The use of these technologies by law enforcement presents a clear danger to all New Yorkers' civil liberties and threatens to erode our fundamental rights to privacy, protest, and equal treatment under the law."

"Troublingly, this reporting also confirms longtime allegations that the MTA uses facial recognition to surveil riders on subways and other public transportation. All of the agencies listed in the report owe the public an explanation for their use of this technology."