Press Pause on Face Surveillance,” the new ACLU campaign to pass a statewide moratorium on the government’s use of face surveillance technology, today announced its first round of business leader endorsements with more expected in the months ahead.

Three technology companies today announced their support for the ACLU of Massachusetts campaign and a Massachusetts moratorium on government use of face surveillance technology. Tech firms Cortex, Kairos, and ProtonMail now join more than 40 other organizations that back the “Press Pause on Face Surveillance” campaign.

"Face surveillance will likely be a critical technology for government and law enforcement going forward. At Cortex, we work with the latest machine visions technologies and see how powerful machine vision can be when processing and understanding images and video,” said Brennan White, CEO of Cortex, a Boston-based company that creates artificial intelligence platforms for social media marketing. “As a society, it's critical that we take our time deploying these technologies at the government level and ensure individual, personal privacy is protected. Personally identifiable data of any kind is already posing significant challenges to organizations around the globe due to a lack of thoughtful architecture and guardrails. A thoughtful, intentional deployment based on our laws and values is critical to balancing the government's need to stay on the cutting edge of technology with the need for ensuring trust and accountability in our systems and institutions."

"We created ProtonMail to stop mass surveillance of emails. Now there's a new surveillance threat, but this time the information at risk isn't our communications — it's our bodies. We support the biometric surveillance moratorium in Massachusetts because we want to build a future in which people feel safe and their personal information is private," said Ben Wolford of ProtonMail, the world’s largest secure email service, developed by MIT scientists.

The ACLU of Massachusetts recently launched “Press Pause on Face Surveillance” to build awareness about the civil liberties concerns posed by face surveillance technology and the need to pass a statewide moratorium on the government’s use of the technology.

An ACLU poll shows 79 percent of Massachusetts voters support a moratorium on government use of face surveillance technology, which is currently unregulated in the state. An ACLU-backed bill currently before legislators on Beacon Hill would establish a statewide moratorium on government use of face surveillance and other biometric screening technologies until the legislature imposes checks and balances to protect the public’s interest. Meanwhile, municipalities like Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline are taking action to bring this technology under democratic control by introducing and enacting municipal bans.

“Artificial intelligence and technology leaders are sounding the alarm about unregulated government use of face surveillance technology, and the Massachusetts legislature must heed that warning,” said Kade Crockford, director of the Technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts. “Responsible technology firms like Cortex, Kairos, and ProtonMail know that strong privacy law is good for business. We are thrilled to partner with them and dozens of other organizations, along with elected leaders, to make sure this technology doesn't get out ahead of our basic rights.”

Cortex, Kairos, and ProtonMail now join dozens of community, advocacy, and legal groups that support a statewide moratorium on government use of face surveillance technology. Kairos is a U.S.-based face recognition artificial intelligence company. 

Learn more about the campaign