City officials in Detroit have come to a compromise on police use of facial recognition technology, with an oversight committee clearing it for criminal investigations but banning the technology’s use in live surveillance.
Police in Detroit had first started using facial recognition software in 2017, with Detroit City Council having approved its purchase. But as the police use of facial recognition has become an increasingly heated issue since the ACLU revealed that Amazon had been selling such technology to law enforcement last year, the Detroit police department has seen growing opposition to this practice from the public.
In response, the city’s chief of police, James Craig, proposed guidelines regulating the use of facial recognition to the Board of Police Commissioners, a civilian oversight body, this past spring. The proposals essentially banned the technology’s use on live video streams, restricting it to the scanning of still images for the identification of individuals involved in violent crimes.
For some members of the public and rights advocates, these restrictions don’t go far enough, with calls for an outright ban on police use of the technology. Much of the concern, in a city where 80 percent of the population is black, revolves around reports that facial recognition systems can perform less accurately when identifying non-white subjects.
The Board of Police Commissioners, however, approved the guidelines in a eight-to-three vote, and the police chief cheered the outcome, saying it’s one in which “we all win.”
September 20, 2019 – by Alex Perala