By Gordon H. Weekes, Jr. – (Source: www.westsidegazette.com) – Although technological advancements have enriched our lives in countless ways, some can cause unintended harm. We must carefully weigh the consequences of introducing new technologies into our community. Law enforcement agencies throughout the country have begun using facial recognition technology in their investigations. The aim of facial recognition software is to identify an unknown face in a photograph or video using a computer program. This new tool may seem appealing from a law enforcement standpoint and even exciting from a technology position but the dangers far outweigh the benefits.
Unfortunately, the technology being used is imperfect. Historically its results are full of misidentifications that have caused multiple wrongful arrests. Further, it imperils our privacy and our civil liberties by virtue of its ability to track people’s movements. There are no laws yet to protect against these dangers. Facial recognition software has a troubling track record of racially-biased misidentifications. According to one Federal study, many facial recognition programs are likely to misidentify people of color more often than white people; in some instances, as much as 100 times more likely. Because having a criminal conviction carries life-long consequences for individuals and families, the stakes are simply too great to risk using a technology that has a track record of inaccuracy and racially biased misidentifications.
Facial recognition technology also threatens civil liberties. Both private companies and government agencies have begun installing security cameras equipped for facial recognition in various public spaces. These networks of cameras can be—and have been—used to track a person’s movements and contacts with others as they move throughout the community. At home and abroad law enforcement agencies have used facial recognition technology to track, identify, locate and arrest protestors. Facial recognition technology can be used to punish voices the government may not agree with. This practice has a chilling effect on freedom of expression and the right to peaceably assemble.
The benefits of facial recognition technology are far outweighed by the risks of racially-biased misidentifications and the deprivation of civil liberties. Facial recognition technology does not belong in Broward County.