US Department of Homeland Security fears face masks break facial recognition


An “intelligence note” found in a trove of law enforcement documents known as BlueLeaks shows that the US Department of Homeland Security fears that face masks are breaking law enforcement facial recognition. The note came from the post-9/11 Minnesota Fusion Center and was distributed on May 26, 2020, as the protests over the killing of George Floyd were beginning, and was sent to city and state government officials, private security officers in Colorado. The note fears both ongoing mask-wearing after the pandemic ebbs and that “violent adversaries” of US law enforcement would exploit public health guidelines about face mask usage in order to evade facial recognition systems in public places. Little evidence so far supports the claims of various companies that their systems can identify masked faces, with the risk that such systems will produce substantially larger numbers of of false positives. DHS also warned of violence perpetrated by those who protest against wearing masks.

Writer: Mara Hvistendahl and Sam Biddle
Publication: The Intercept

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