Owner Faces Backlash Over Plan to Install Facial Recognition Technology

A group of rent-stabilized tenants at a Brooklyn complex have filed an objection with the state’s Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) agency over the owner’s plans to install facial recognition technology at the entrance to the site. The tenants are concerned over the potential for privacy and civil liberties violations.

StoneLock Go, the facial recognition product that the owner plans to install, uses infra-red technology to retrieve thousands of data points from under the skin, like bone structures, which it then uses to grant a resident entry. The manufacturer’s privacy policy states that it can collect JPEG images of people when they opt-in to the service, and create a user profile, on an app used to connect with the device.

Under state rules, owners of rent-regulated apartments built before 1974 must seek permission from HCR for any “modification in service.” In the letter to HCR, the tenants argued that studies have shown that facial recognition technology "disproportionately impacts the elderly, women and people of color." They also noted that the owner had “made no assurances to protect the data from being accessed by NYPD, ICE, or any other city, state, or federal agency.”

The tenants have not yet received a response from HCR. One of their complaints is that because they were not promptly notified about the landlord’s application, they were not given enough time to file their objection.