The Technology and Innovation Commission of Long Beach, California, is asking the city to end its use of facial recognition technology. The request was made following the publication of a January 2022 Commission white paper on the applications and potential impact of public facial recognition in the community.
The white paper had been in the works for a full year, during which Commissioners were specifically tasked to investigate questions of racial bias. The city of Long Beach requested the white paper as part of its Framework for Reconciliation, which was passed after the police murder of George Floyd in May of 2020. The paper contains input from the Long Beach Police Department, as well as technology and policy experts and members of the general public.
Based on that feedback, the Commission concluded that Long Beach should not be using facial recognition until its ramifications are more clearly understood. The Commission believes that the technology poses a threat to people’s civil liberties, and that city agencies should need to demonstrate that the benefits outweigh the concerns before gaining access to the technology.
The Commission does not fully rule out all future use of facial recognition, but does believe that much more oversight would be necessary. To that end, the Commission urged the city to create a framework for evaluating surveillance systems that collect personally identifiable information, as well as a separate, independent commission to administer that framework. That commission would have authority over any algorithmic and surveillance solutions used within the city.
As it stands, the Long Beach Police Department is the primary user of facial recognition in the city. The Department stressed that it does not perform live surveillance, but instead looks at faces in security camera and smartphone footage to search for matches in the Los Angeles County Regional Identification System (LACRIS) during an investigation. The LACRIS database contains 9 million mugshots, and is maintained by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The nearby LAPD barred officers from using third-party facial recognition systems in 2020, shortly after being forced to acknowledge that its own use of facial recognition was far more widespread than had previously been reported. However, LAPD officers still have access to the internal LACRIS system.
Source: Long Beach Post News
March 28, 2022 – by Eric Weiss