Press Release

ICMEC Urges US Congress to Protect Facial Recognition Software

ALEXANDRIA, Va.June 20, 2019 — This week The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children sent the following letter to each member of the United States Congress, urging them not to ban governmental use of facial recognition software. This technology is helping in the search for missing children. We cannot condone a full ban of it and recognize that action must be taken.


Dear United States Congress Members,

On behalf of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children, I am writing to you to show our support for the use of the facial recognition program to protect children from sexual exploitation and trafficking.

For over 20 years we have been uniting the world in the protection, response, recovery and healing of every missing, sexually abused and exploited child. We continuously seek new tools to help law enforcement and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in their mission to
protect children.

Each year, over a million children are reported missing globally. In the United States alone, over 400,000 reports of missing children are made annually. To find these children investigators create and distribute posters hoping the public will recognize the missing child. This can take weeks, months or years. This outdated use of technology strains law enforcement resources and is limited in its effectiveness. Law enforcement in every country needs 21 st century technology to fight 21 st century crime and social problems.

In response, earlier this year, we launched the GMCNgine, an artificial intelligence platform helping vetted law enforcement and NGOs in 30 countries find and recover missing children. Our partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) has brought their facial recognition tool, Rekognition, to the platform, giving users the ability to match a missing child photo with images and videos of trafficked or exploited children shared in the darkest corners of the Internet.

The integration of Rekognition and its algorithm within the GMCNgine TM gives law enforcement and NGOs with limited resources and time another tool to tirelessly search for missing children. This technology does not replace but rather bolsters the essential human component of missing child investigations. Rekognition never stops searching until experts know where
the child is.

The International Centre supports the use of facial recognition, with dedicated policies in place, to assist law enforcement around the world in the protection of children. We encourage the passing of responsible and practical legislation to mitigate the misuse of facial recognition.

As there are positive uses to this tool, we cannot support the full ban nor moratorium of this technology. We look forward to continuing to work with AWS to enhance the effectiveness and use of Rekognition. We also extend our thanks and appreciation to the U.S. Congress for its efforts to protect children from exploitation, and to promote and facilitate enhanced collaboration within the global child protection community.

Paul Shapiro
President & CEO,
International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children