This week could see the further development of a small but growing trend toward banning the government’s use of facial recognition technology, with the Oakland City Council set to discuss a proposed ban in a meeting scheduled for Tuesday.
Introduced earlier this year, the proposed ban would only apply to the municipal government, prohibiting it or its agencies (including city police) from using facial recognition technology. The proposal received approval from Oakland’s Privacy Commission at the start of May, and was recommended by the Oakland City Council’s Public Safety Committee in June.
Concerns about the technology have revolved around privacy rights and skepticism about facial recognition systems’ reliability in the wake of academic studies that have found some systems to perform less accurately when scanning non-white and non-male individuals. Meanwhile, advocacy groups associated with the biometrics industry and police have argued that facial recognition technology offers a valuable policing tool that can help to fight crime.
City officials in San Francisco approved a municipal ban on facial recognition technology in May, shortly after the California Assembly approved a bill that would ban the use of facial recognition through police body cameras. California, the tech hub of the country, has thus emerged as the epicenter of a growing backlash against facial recognition technology.
Oakland City Council’s discussion is set to start at 5:30pm Tuesday, and is expected to culminate in a vote on the proposed ban.
July 16, 2019 – by Alex Perala