NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A global campaign was launched Tuesday to ban facial recognition technology.

Critics say it creates privacy issues and can contribute to racial profiling.

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The campaign is called “Ban the Scan,” and on Tuesday morning civil rights groups and lawmakers called on the New York City and state to ban the technology, which they say threatens marginalized communities, CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reported.

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It’s being called by some a dangerous step towards a surveillance state, where a person’s every move can be tracked the minute they leave their homes.

“New York City has used biased and broken facial recognition systems for far too long, keeping an ever-watchful and automated eye on communities of color. This technology must be outlawed,” said Albert Fox Cahn of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project.

Facial recognition technology (Photo: CBS2)

A virtual meeting was held Tuesday by privacy advocates and elected officials to warn of the dangers of facial recognition technology, and how it specifically affects historically over-policed BIPOC — Black, indigenous and people of color — communities.

“The majority of algorithms finding between 10 and 100 times more false matches for Black women than for white men. The further you are from being a white man, the more likely it will be wrong,” New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said.

Facial recognition uses algorithms to automatically detect faces from surveillance cameras and social media and it tries to match the images with a country-wide mug shot database.

There are concerns it could put New Yorkers of color at risk of false arrest and police violence.

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Black Lives Matter activist Derrick Ingrams said he was falsely tracked.

“In the attempted siege of my apartment, here in Hell’s Kitchen, the NYPD deployed, allegedly, facial recognition technology … and they besieged my apartment with over dozens of officers, police dogs,” Ingrams said.

“Since 2017 alone, the New York Police Department has used facial recognition 22,000 times, and we know New York state has spent millions of dollars on the technology since then,” said Matt Mahmoudi of Amnesty International.

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In 2019, Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon purchased controversial facial recognition technology form a company called Clearview AI. His office issued a statement Tuesday which reads, “… given the recent violent siege that occurred in the Capitol Building on Jan. 6, and the widespread arrests that quickly followed, I think every American can see how such technology can be an effective tool for law enforcement when used properly and safely.”

CBS2 also reached out to the NYPD for comment. The department said in part, “Any facial recognition match is solely an investigative lead and not probable cause for arrest. No enforcement action is ever taken solely on the basis of a facial recognition match.”

Critics are now urging lawmakers to pass bill S-79, which would ban facial recognition technology from being used by police.

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Natalie Duddridge