Facial Recognition; Another Setback for Law Enforcement

So far this year, the use of facial recognition by law enforcement has been successfully challenged by courts and legislatures on both sides of the Atlantic.

In the US, for example, Washington State Senate Bill 6280 appeared in January 2020, and proposed curbing the use of facial recognition in the state, though not entirely.

The bill admitted that:

- Sponsors -

[S]tate and local government agencies may use facial recognition services in a variety of beneficial ways, such as locating missing or incapacitated persons, identifying victims of crime, and keeping the public safe.

But it also insisted that:

Unconstrained use of facial recognition services by state and local government agencies poses broad social ramifications that should be considered and addressed. Accordingly, legislation is required to establish safeguards that will allow state and local government agencies to use facial recognition services in a manner that benefits society while prohibiting uses that threaten our democratic freedoms and put our civil liberties at risk.

And in June 2020, Boston followed San Fransisco to become the second-largest metropolis in the US – indeed, in the world – to prohibit the use of facial recognition.

Even Boston’s Police Department Commissioner, William Gross, was against it, despite its obvious benefits for finding wanted persons or fugitive convicts who might otherwise easily hide in plain sight.

Gross, it seems, just doesn’t think it’s accurate enough to be useful, and was additionally concerned that facial recognition software, loosely put, may work less accurately as your skin tone gets darker:

“Until this technology is 100%, I’m not interested in it. I didn’t forget that I’m African American and I can be misidentified as well,” said Gross

Across the Atlantic, similar objections have been brewing. Edward Bridges, a civil rights campaigner in South Wales, UK, has just received a judgement from Britain’s Court of Appeal that establishes judicial concerns along similar lines to those aired in Washington and Boston…  Naked Security