By Aaron Kesel
The Detroit Board of Police Commissioners voted to approve the Detroit Police Department’s use of controversial facial recognition technology on the public, Courthouse News reported.
According to the directive, police would be limited to using the system when officers have “reasonable suspicion” of home invasions and violent crimes involving incidents like shootings, sexual assaults and carjacking. Further, the system doesn’t have assess to check immigration status on individuals and was restricted from accessing live surveillance streaming video or any security camera device. Outside agencies would be allowed access to the information if needed after proper paperwork is filed.
The order also clarified the technology will not be used to fully identify a suspect, but as an investigatory lead. However, given the nature of the technology we know that promise is bollocks.
A local security officer will be assigned to monitor requests for using the tool and confirm the purge of irrelevant information. Misuse of the system by officers will be considered major misconduct that will require telling the mayor, City Council and Police Board of Commissioners within 24 hours if an incident occurs, Courthouse News reported.
Police Commissioners approved the use of the system despite nationwide backlash against use of the technology.
Recently Orlando, Florida cancelled its own police trial of Amazon’s Facial Rekognition after unsuccessful results combining a total of 15 months of technical issues with accuracy, bandwidth issues and controversy over the face-scanning technology. It is not known whether Detroit police will be using Amazon’s Facial Rekognition or another form of software. However, all forms of facial recognition software have the same privacy related problems.
The rapid growth of this technology has triggered a much-needed debate to slow down the rollout. Activists, politicians, academics and even police forces are expressing serious concerns over the impact facial recognition could have on our society.
Several lawmakers have even chimed in to voice concerns about Amazon’s facial recognition software, expressing worry that it could be misused, The Hill reported.
A Senate bill introduced in March would force companies who want to use facial recognition technology on consumers to first get their consent. If that happens, as soon as the ink is dry Amazon’s Ring and Amazon’s Facial Rekognition which heavily relies on facial recognition technology could be banned across the U.S.
Congress under the House Oversight Committee recently held a bipartisan discussion on the issue of regulating the use of facial recognition technology and biometric cameras.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said, “there are virtually no controls …. Whatever walk of life you come from, you may be a part of this [surveillance] process.”
The committee’s top Republican Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio.) also expressed “It’s time for a time out” on government use of the surveillance technology.
Privacy advocate groups, attorneys, and even more recently Microsoft, which also markets its own facial recognition system, have all raised concerns over the technology, pointing to issues of consent, racial profiling, and the potential to use images gathered through facial recognition cameras as evidence of criminal guilt by law enforcement.
“We don’t want to live in a world where government bureaucrats can enter in your name into a database and get a record of where you’ve been and what your financial, political, sexual, and medical associations and activities are,” Jay Stanley, an attorney with ACLU, told BuzzFeed News about the use of facial recognition cameras in retail stores. “And we don’t want a world in which people are being stopped and hassled by authorities because they bear resemblance to some scary character.”
The FBI has also failed to assuage concerns of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on its own use of facial recognition technology using the Next Generation Identification-Interstate Photo System.
A national survey of 3,151 U.S. adults in December, found only one in four Americans believe the federal government should strictly limit the use of facial recognition biometrics technology.
The survey also indicates Americans are more likely to support a trade-off to their own privacy caused by biometric technology if it benefits law enforcement, reduces shoplifting or speeds up airport security lines.
Only 18 percent of those polled stated they agreed with strict limitations on facial recognition tech if it comes at the expense of public safety, compared to 55 percent who disagreed with such limitations.
However, a poll from the Brookings Institution in September 2018 contradicts that and found half of Americans favored limitations of the use of facial recognition by law enforcement, while 42 percent felt it invaded personal privacy rights.
Facial recognition technology is even invading concerts, which Fight For The Future and artists have teamed up to stop the deployment of the tech within concert venues, as Activist Post reported.
Fight For The Future has previously launched a first-of-its-kind interactive map that tracks where in the U.S. facial recognition technology is being used and where it is being resisted, along with a tool-kit for local activists who want to help kickstart a ban in their city or state, as Activist Post reported.
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has signaled it will investigate NSA surveillance and use of Facial Recognition.
Consent to be identified by the government whenever and wherever we go is approval to have the government decide whether, when, and where we are allowed to travel like China. Put bluntly: it is very dangerous.
If we consent, we normalize this type of technology and we are telling the military-industrial complex and police state that it’s okay to force this tech down our throats and take more of our rights. If we confront them, like in San Francisco, Somerville, Massachusetts, and Oakland, California. We show that we care about our rights and won’t have our rights taken away without putting up a fight.
Image credit: NVIDIA
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