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In Opposition of Facial Recognition Technology in Residential Buildings

The New York Civil Liberties Union (“NYCLU”) respectfully submits the following letter in support of Brooklyn Legal Services’ opposition to the application for the installation of a Facial Recognition Entry System (Docket Nos: GS210005OD and GS210008OD) in the rent-stabilized buildings of Atlantic Plaza Towers, located at 249 Thomas S. Boyland Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11233 and 216 Rockaway Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 11233 owned by Atlantic Towers Associates, L.P. (“Owner”). 

The NYCLU, the New York state affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”), is a not-for-profit, non-partisan organization with eight offices across the state, and approximately 150,000 members and supporters statewide. The NYCLU’s mission is to defend and promote the fundamental principles, rights and values embodied in the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of the State of New York. The NYCLU works to expand the right to privacy, increase the control individuals have over their personal information, and ensure civil liberties are enhanced rather than compromised by technological innovation. 

Read the Letter

The proposed Facial Recognition Entry System represents a major shift in tenant rights and in the policies that govern the residents of over 700 households in the Atlantic Plaza Towers, predominantly women and people of color. The imposition of a biometric identification access system for entrance into one’s own home raises constitutional concerns and intrudes on tenants’ rights of self-determination and privacy. It conditions entry into one’s home – the place where our constitutional rights are at their most robust – on the provision of one’s most sensitive biological data. Residents should not have to live in fear that landlords are tracking their comings and goings and amassing sensitive data on tenants and their guests. And those tenants and guests who are women, children, and people of color have particular reason to fear such a change in their housing rights, as facial recognition systems are notoriously inaccurate when it comes to these groups. 
Thus, not only would installation of this system cause harm to tenants’ privacy rights, but also their civil rights to access housing on equal and nondiscriminatory terms.
A mandatory facial recognition access system will have detrimental effects on the civil liberties and rights of residents and guests. Any such technology should only be used with the affirmative, informed consent and explicit opt-in of any tenant, and never as a blanket requirement imposed on tenants as a condition of housing.
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