Will facial recognition be banned for law enforcement?
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
California is on the verge of banning facial recognition technology on police body cameras. The Golden State is one of the first states to call for such a strict policy.
Originally intended to be an outright ban, it has now been scaled back at Gov. Gavin Newsom’s request. The legislation passed by California lawmakers now states that police are barred from installing it on body-worn cameras for three years.
The bill awaits the governor’s final nod. Once it is ratified, it will significantly rein in the use of facial recognition, which is rapidly evolving.
Law enforcement agencies and groups are naturally not happy with this decision. According to them, this legislation may prevent them from using facial recognition technology for important and time-sensitive cases like finding lost children and tracking suspects, especially for mass shootings or disaster scenarios with lots of casualties.
They are disappointed that the public is not understanding that they are using technology for good and solve crimes faster. They have repeatedly denied allegations that law enforcement uses facial recognition and other emerging technologies to spy on the general public.
It is, however, true that the use of facial recognition technology is not well-regulated. As a result, there are constant questions and concerns over its accuracy and privacy considerations at the national level, not just in California.
Proponents of the legislation point to these factors to show the potential of abuse. Critics also argue that the technology is not reliable enough and would be a disaster to use without proper legal or community oversight. A case in point is the app's inability to identify people of color and women accurately, which are huge red flags.
It is interesting to note that while California is opposing it, a British court just made police usage of facial recognition legal and acceptable in the U.K. After evaluating reports from both sides, the judge felt that it does not violate human rights or privacy.
That case has been of interest to many since there is little legal precedent. The technology has advanced quickly and adopted by law enforcement agencies just as fast, though regulations for it have been slower to develop.
But law enforcement groups in the country won the day by presenting factual data of their use, how it aids them in preventing crimes at mass events, and how they avoid improper use of the technology.
New technologies like these can go a long way to supplement a lack of resources and make up for budget cuts. They state that innovation and embrace technology like facial recognition will help maintain police numbers in our local communities.
Bernie Sanders is one of the first 2020 presidential candidates who has called for a ban on police use of facial recognition tech.
No one wants to live under constant surveillance, like in a police state. Presidential candidates talking about it shows how politically popular proposed bans have become.
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