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What's the Big Problem With Facial Recognition?

The Oakland City Council recently gave final approval to an ordinance banning facial recognition in that city. This is part of a broader movement at the state and local level to ban outright or at least limit this invasive surveillance technology.

So, what’s the big problem with facial recognition?

Plenty.

In the first place, it’s just not very accurate, especially when reading African American and other minority facial features. It gets it wrong a lot of the time.

This isn’t just theoretical musing. During a test run by the ACLU of Northern California, facial recognition misidentified 26 members of the California legislature as people in a database of arrest photos.

But as ACLU attorney Matt Cagle said, this isn’t a problem that can be fixed by tweaking an algorithm. There are more fundamental issues with facial recognition. Government use of facial recognition technology for identifying and tracking people en masse flies in the face of both the Fourth Amendment and constitutional provisions protecting privacy in every state constitution.

Berkeley, California, City Councilmember Kate Harrison is pushing for a facial recognition ban in her city. In her recommendation of the ordinance, she pointed out the inherent constitutional problem with facial recognition….[ ]

What do you think?

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