News  |  ,   |  June 27, 2019

Major Police Body Cam Company Just Banned Facial Recognition: Its ethics board says the technology is not reliable enough to justify using

News article by Charlie Warzel.
Published by the New York Times.

Excerpt:

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.

“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. [ . . . ]