Tenants and housing rights attorneys have expressed their concern at the intention of a Brooklyn landlord to install facial recognition technology at the entrance of a rent-stabilized complex with around 700 units. Tenants and attorneys feel that this is a far-reaching form of digital surveillance.

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Tenants at Brownsville’s Atlantic Plaza Towers have filed an objection to the plan, expressing concerns over the potential of privacy and civil liberties violations. The objection has been filed with the state’s Homes and Community Renewal agency which has oversight over rent-regulated properties.

Gothamist hears from several tenants that the landlord, Nelson Management, sought state approval to install facial recognition technology from the state without informing them in July last year. The system is known as StoneLock and it collects biometric data based on facial features to provide a “frictionless” entry system, according to the company that makes it.

State rules require that landlords of rent-regulated apartments that were built before 1974 seek permission from the HCR before any “modification in service.” Longtime tenant Icemae Downes expressed reservations over the plan, saying that “We don’t want to be tracked,” adding that “We are not animals. This is like tagging us through our faces because they can’t implant us with a chip.”

When asked about the use of facial recognition in affordable housing, a spokesperson for the HPD said “While we can’t say we’ve seen an uptick in amenities of this sort, we welcome development plans that allow for the marriage of high tech features and affordability.”

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