The Perpetual Line-Up
Center for Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law
Spitfire partnered with the Center for Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law (CPT) in the run-up to the release of its groundbreaking report, The Perpetual Line-Up: Unregulated Police Face Recognition in America. We developed a comprehensive media outreach strategy, messaging, and conducted capacity building training with staff to prepare for the report launch. Our efforts led to features in the New York Times, CBS Evening News, and NPR.
Based on research including more than 100 freedom of information requests, the report found that facial recognition is more pervasive, more advanced, and much less controlled than people realize and that communities of color are overwhelmingly paying the price for this abuse. Together with CPT, Spitfire drafted messaging that brought the issue to life, making it clear why innocent people should care that their faces are in a virtual line-up and raising important questions about how this technology affected civil liberties and civil rights. Spitfire also wrote the media outreach strategy, drafted all supporting materials, conducted media training for the team, organized a teleconference, and led vigorous national and local media outreach.
The result was a story impossible to ignore. The story broke on the front page of the Washington Post and earned regional front-page coverage from Baltimore to Tampa Bay. It aired on the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley and NPR Morning Edition and was covered by media from the New York Times and Reuters to the Atlantic and Wired. A hearing a few months later before the House Oversight Committee was a testament to the strength of the messaging: both Republicans and Democrats grilled FBI representatives and lamented what Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) called “a very sad point, a very dangerous point when we're doing away with the reasonable expectation of privacy about anything.”