California’s Proposed Ban on Police Facial Recognition

By:  |  Category: Cloud Thursday, September 19th, 2019  |  No Comments
facial recognition

Recently cleared in the senate, a police facial recognition ban is about to head to the governor to sign.

Why would we want to limit the scope of what’s used to catch the bad guys? Doesn’t facial recognition help put criminals behind bars?

Why ban facial recognition?

Under the proposed law, police would be barred from equipping their body cameras with facial recognition software for a period of three years. Questions about the accuracy of the technology and privacy are central issues.”

Facial recognition technology in the cameras worn by police? It used to seem far-fetched, but so was virtual reality and artificial intelligence and look at the advances in those arenas.

Accuracy and Bias?

This proposal stems from a privacy standpoint and concern that facial recognition software has a bias toward minorities and women. There are studies affirming this bias, such as a recent test using Amazon software that incorrectly matched 26 California legislators with photos of recently arrested criminals. Oops.

We don’t disagree there is room for improvement, and it seems the legislature does not either.

The approved proposal was dropped from 7 years to 3, stating the technology needs time to improve and the issue should be revisited when the accuracy is up to par. Technology has a knack for quick development, and this software, if perfected (or at least drastically improved), could be a huge benefit to the police force, who is showing firm resistance against the bill.

The argument for those opposed is to give facial recognition a chance to “be brought up to standards,” and advance into a valuable ally for the police department’s aid against crime. Those in favor believe a temporary moratorium on the technology in the hands (or vests) of officers, is a logical precautionary step given the bias in facial recognition and its potential for danger and inaccuracy.

Either way you slice it, there’s a potential we will have three years to wait until this technology is adopted by law enforcement while on patrol. If that’s a good thing or a bad thing seems to be a consistent split with lawmakers and the general public.

Technology seems to advance in dog years anyway, so who knows what facial recognition tech will look like in 3 years. We’ll just have to wait to find out!

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