A Major Police Body Cam Company Just Banned Facial Recognition
Posted On 06/28/2019 03:20:30 by freemexy

A Major Police Body Cam Company Just Banned Facial Recognition Axon, the company that supplies 47 out of the 69 largest police agencies in the United States with body cameras and software, announced Thursday that it will ban the use of facial recognition systems on its devices.police body camera footage “Face recognition technology is not currently reliable enough to ethically justify its use,” the company’s independent ethics board concluded. Even as facial recognition systems are rolled out by privacy companies — from airlines to smartphone makers — institutions nationwide are balking at government’s use of algorithmically-powered surveillance tools. In May, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted to ban use of facial recognition technology by the city’s police and other agencies. Other cities, including Berkeley and Oakland, Calif., and Somerville, Mass. are also mulling or close on bans. Earlier this month, California lawmakers announced they’re considering a statewide ban on facial recognition in police body cams. In a 28-page report, Axon’s ethics board, which was handpicked by members of the Policing Project at New York University School of Law, argued that the technology “does not perform as well on people of color compared to whites, on women compared to men, or young people compared to older people.” The report also cautioned that facial recognition is especially prone to inaccuracy when used with police body cameras, which frequently operate in low-light conditions and produce shaky footage. “The tech is just not accurate enough,” Barry Friedman, founding director of N.Y.U.’s Policing Project and a member of the ethics board, told me. “Until that’s fixed we don’t need to say another word. And that could be years.”Axon’s move is a rare departure from the “move fast and break things” style of innovation traditionally associated with new technologies. And it may very well indicate that, when it comes to facial tracking and privacy, policing may be where we draw the line. It’s a crucial moment for facial recognition. Though most police departments have yet to deploy it, some uses by law enforcement have been troubling. This year researchers found that Detroit signed a $1 million deal with a vendor to continuously screen hundreds of public cameras throughout the city without citizen approval. In May, Clare Garvie, a facial recognition researcher at Georgetown Law, revealed sketchy tactics used by the N.Y.P.D. to match security camera footage with potential suspects who looked like celebrities.

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