The Los Angeles Police Department and the FBI have been collecting footage of looting and vandalism at protests for use in future arrests.
Monday, the FBI put out a call for photos and videos of anyone “actively instigating violence” during the ongoing protests across the country over the death of George Floyd.
“If government agencies are stockpiling large repositories of film, in light of what’s going on with widely available facial recognition technology, I wouldn’t be surprised if those technologies were used on those crowd-sourced contributions,” Nikhil Ramnaney, head of the union that represents Los Angeles County public defenders said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “If you’re sourcing footage from people, you could pull metadata from that footage that could also tell you who was present at that scene.”
Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst for the Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at the ACLU, told the LA Times that if law enforcement is gathering evidence of wrongdoing, then it should extend to police officers as well.
“There have been plenty of reports and videos of abusive police and National Guard behavior,” Stanley said. “They shouldn’t retain any video of people exercising their 1st Amendment rights who aren’t breaking the law.”